Reeling from the latest injury to Kobe Bryant and with no healthy point guards able to return to action anytime soon, the Lakers signed a capable initiator of the offense from the D-League to bolster the team’s ever-eroding roster.
Marshall was a project of a player when the Suns drafted him, and once the old regime was out and the team had Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in place for the coming season, Marshall became expendable. He was part of the deal that sent Marcin Gortat to the Wizards in exchange for Emeka Okafor, but along with Shannon Brown was waived after the trade was completed.
With no other suitors lining up to sign him, Marshall wisely took his talents to the D-League, both to stay on teams’ radar and to stay ready in case an opportunity like this presented itself.
Marshall has never been the most athletic player on the floor, but he possesses a high basketball IQ and has proven capable of knocking down open looks from three-point distance when the defense has chosen to let him shoot. His rookie season averages were so low that they’re not worth repeating, but as a ball-handler with excellent court vision, the Lakers made a nice pickup to plug a necessary short-term hole, especially for the price.
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“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.
“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”
That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.
I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?
It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.