If there's anything this website will be known for in the future, it might be this: Liberty Ballers has spilled so much digital ink on players who have not once played for the 76ers. The site spent a whole season discussing Andrew Bynum and his gyrations and Fred Flintstone-esque bowling skills. Some of our draft coverage, courtesy of Matt Carey, is labeled as "Wiggins Watch" still. Wiggins is in his second year in the NBA and is definitely not a Sixer right now. Heck, our staff wrote upwards of 100,000 words on draft coverage over the past year, and only a fraction related to players now on the team.
And let's not begin talking about Joel Embiid. It's easier to just not do that.
So when you have a long-awaited player making his debut, it's bound to build excitement. Even if it's Kendall Marshall, and he's not really a savior.
Marshall signed a four-year deal with the Sixers in September and is debuting after completing his rehab for a torn ACL he suffered last year as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks and, statistically, is by far the best passer the Sixers employ. He's also long been the object of a certain Liberty Ballers writer's affection, along with many others, especially after his brief run tearing up the D-League with the Delaware Sevens.
In fact, if you used this site's search function on "Kendall Marshall" as of 9 AM this morning, 213 results came up.
Much of Marshall's limited NBA success came on a bad Lakers team running an offense tailor-made for his skills. Marshall can pass the crap out of the basketball and make an ugly set shot from three, though he can't break down a defense one-on-five. He also can create a bit out of the post as he showed in Milwaukee last year. He plays defense as if he were barefoot on the beach, which an ACL tear probably isn't going to help.
The Sixers are not that kind of tailor-made team the D'Antoni Lakers were. Marshall isn't a high usage player himself, though he'll create plenty of opportunities for others. A higher-usage point guard who takes more pressure off the wings to score would be more helpful considering the system- someone like Ish Smith.
But Marshall is something. The dude can pass. And he can help this mess get some things figured out. His court vision will be a nice reprieve from remembering that Isaiah Canaan has manned the point multiple times on his own late in games to disastrous results.
Marshall will likely be on the same minutes plan Tony Wroten has been on since his return: 12-14 minutes played in short increments. Wroten is not cleared for back-to-back games yet and will sit out tonight.
Meanwhile, the Pistons come to town as a reasonable facsimile of what Stan Van Gundy's teams were in Orlando. Andre Drummond is a monster who might eat Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He's averaging 18-17 and two steals per game. Reggie Jackson is hitting enough jumpers, and I had a nightmare last night about what he would do to Marshall if Marshall had to defend him for an entire game.
The Pistons would be much better if their shooters could shoot - among their rotation players, only Ersan Ilyasova hits at an average or better percentage on threes. With the Jackson-Drummond combination running high pick-and-roll, they should get open shots against the Sixers with Okafor's defense. It may come down to whether they hit them and whether or not the Sixers recover from a woeful 4-30 performance against the Nets.