Is the Lakers’ Kendall Marshall the League’s Most Improved Player?

The NBA's Most Improved Player award is normally given to players who have been in the league for at least a few years—those with a comparative body of work. In just his second season, however, Kendall Marshall is making a strong case for his candidacy.

Marshall was basically a washout after 48 appearances as a rookie. To date, he has played in just 74 regular-season NBA games.

So how does this guy deserve an MIP trophy? Through one of the most jaw-dropping transformations you’re ever likely to see.

Marshall was a high draft pick by the Phoenix Suns in 2012 but never caught on, averaging just three points and three assists per game in his freshman season. To say he was buried on the bench is putting it mildly.

The situation didn’t improve over the summer—Marshall was used as filler in a multiplayer trade to the Washington Wizards and was immediately waived. The young point guard then did what other fringe ballers do—he joined the D-League.

In late December, the Los Angeles Lakers, having basically run out of healthy bodies, plucked Marshall from obscurity, tossed him onto the floor and then watched with the rest of the league as the unthinkable happened:

The 22-year-old reclamation project averaged 11.9 points and 11.5 assists during the month of January, along with an impressive 44.1 percent from behind the arc.

Just who was this kid?

One of the best passers you’ll ever find, for one thing, and somebody with a shooting motion out of the dark ages. Marshall is a practitioner of that old-time standard—the set shot. When Jeff Hornacek was hired as the new head coach of the Suns last summer, he urged Marshall to rethink his strategy.

Bob Young of The Arizona Republic relayed the concern voiced by Hornacek during training camp:

“I talked to him about getting his shot up higher, and I&rsq...

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