Can Kendall Marshall and Ryan Kelly Be Long-Term Pieces for Los Angeles Lakers?

Kendall Marshall and Ryan Kelly weren't names that attracted much attention a few months ago, but they’re starting to look like long-term pieces of the puzzle for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Management has both players signed to two-year, unguaranteed contracts. In other words, the Lakers hold the cards for a couple of bargain basement deals that are paying off right now.

To put things in perspective, it took injuries to Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, Kobe Bryant and Xavier Henry to send management scrambling to find somebody to toss into the gaping hole. What they found was Marshall, a former draft bust who was lighting up the D-League.

As for Kelly, the 48th pick of the 2013 NBA draft was coming off foot surgery with an uncertain future. Per Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:

The Lakers drafted Ryan Kelly in the second round primarily for his ability to stretch the floor with his long-range accuracy, but the team has been discouraged by the rookie's progress during the summer, according to multiple league sources. The Lakers doubt that Kelly, who missed summer league while recovering from multiple foot procedures, will be ready for the start of training camp. 

Yet, here we are in January, and this unlikely duo are not only replacement starters, but beginning to look like the future. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has a couple of legitimate if unpolished gems in Kelly, a classic stretch four and Marshall, a pass-first point guard.

How well are they doing? Marshall is averaging 9.1 assists per game through 14 games which would put him in the top three of the NBA leaderboard behind Chris Paul and Stephen Curry, but for the fact that he hasn’t logged enough games this season. That will change before long. As for scoring, Marshall’s chipping in 10.1 points per game.

Kelly has started in the Lakers last two games after playing sparingly (when...

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