Marcus Morris’s Improvement

The Rockets selected Marcus Morris with the 14th pick of the 2011 NBA draft, one spot behind his twin brother Markieff, who was drafted by the Phoenix Suns. Due to the Rockets’s roster configuration at the time (Luis Scola was entrenched as the starting power forward, with Patrick Patterson coming off the bench), Marcus barely played his rookie year. He spent most of last year in the D-League, appearing in only 17 NBA games and logging a grand total of 126 minutes. Markieff, on the other hand, played in nearly all the Suns’s games, averaged 20 minutes per game, and posted a respectable PER of 12. At the time, it seemed we had clearly gotten the lesser of the two brothers.

What a difference a year makes. In his second season, Marcus Morris has become a consistently productive rotation player. According to Basketball Reference, he’s playing 23 minutes per game while shooting 46/40/70 (FG%/3PT%/FT%), averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds per 36 minutes, and posting a PER of 14. Some of this increase in production is certainly due to more opportunity: with Scola gone and Patterson as the starter, there are simply more minutes available for Morris. While Marcus has improved upon his rookie campaign in almost every aspect, the main source of his increased offensive production is his transformation into a reliable three point shooter. At 5 threes per 36 minutes, Morris is attempting triples at a rate similar to last year. The difference, however, is that they’re actually going in now—he’s shooting 40% from three this season compared with 12% last season. In effect, Morris’s offensive game has undergone an evolution that resembles that of Patrick Patterson (outlined previously in this excellent piece by Michael Pina), giving the Rockets two players of the “stretch-four” variety so coveted in the modern NBA’s spacing-dependent offenses.

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