"Sent down", "demoted", and "relegated" are some of the words and terms often heard when describing the latest NBA player selected for a D-League assignment. Kendall Marshall and Kevin Murphy have been recently chosen by their NBA teams to spend time in the D-League, and under the circumstances in which both players will be arriving in the D-League, their assignments are a far cry from any sort of punishment or demotion.
Kendall Marshall has been unable to crack the Phoenix Suns roster, and when he finally did receive some playing time late in a game against the Detroit Pistons, the first round draft pick was "gassed" after 16 minutes of action. It was also reported that Marshall tweaked his ankle in the final minute. How could you blame him? Marshall has been spending most of his time as a member of the Suns on the bench, and in practice sessions with NBA veteran guard and Phoenix Suns director of player development Lindsey Hunter. Hunter's main goal has been to keep Marshall in shape, also working on his long range shot amidst other things.
Now Hunter will accompany Marshall on his assignment with the Bakersfield Jam. A move by the Suns that displays their commitment in developing Marshall as a player who they hope can return to the team and contribute if called upon. Marshall has said all the right things leading into his assignment with Bakersfield, "I’m trying to look at it as a positive – a time to get better, get reps up and stay in shape," Marshall said. "I don’t know if anybody thinks of this as a possibility coming out of college but, for some people, it’s part of the process and everybody has to take a different path."
Reps in the D-League will be very beneficial for the former North Carolina star. It will allow both Marshall and Hunter to continue to work on what they have set out to do in Phoenix, however, in real live competition against very skilled players.
In Kevin Murphy's case, the second round pick of the Utah Jazz will be flanked by two Utah Jazz scouts, and a list of skill and physical development goals for his assignment with the Reno Bighorns. The Jazz have issued a 5-game minimum for Murphy, and the team hopes he will thrive in this opportunity to play and learn how to be a professional. Once again, the amount of time and resources that the Jazz are putting towards Murphy's assignment shows that NBA teams are not sending players to the D-League simply because they have no room for them in a given rotation, or that the player has not reached enough expectations. D-League assignments are not being used for wake up calls, they are calculated moves being made by NBA teams in an effort to better both their roster in the future, and the player whom they have invested in.
The assignments of Kendall Marshall and Kevin Murphy are great examples of how NBA teams are using their D-League affiliates this season. The added assistance that both player's are receiving and close monitoring which the Suns and Jazz are keeping on them, further proves that their trips to the D-League are based solely for the improvement of each player.