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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  • Forrest Walker says 1 YEAR ago Morris' threes have been invaluable lately. As it turns out, having a three point threat at as many positions as possible is extremely helpful. In general, Marcus is having, as you said, a very exciting season, and I didn't realize just how well he was shooting from deep. Especially for a guy who everyone sorta wrote off. Patrick Patterson might not be excited to have other forwardss threatening his starting spot, but I'm sure the Rockets front office is.
  • DaDakota says 1 YEAR ago Once we got Harden, Lin's role completely changed - no more Linsanity allowed.
  • cdhthegreat says 1 YEAR ago "But Motie may be the future at the PF. If he can adjust and learn the NBA successfully,he might be a Cousins/Z-Bo/Al Jefferson type PF,a consistent scorer who gets enough rebounds and isn't a sieve on D."

    I absolutely could not agree more with this statement.... though I think Jones will prove to be a valuable rotation piece before the season is up.
  • Red94 says 1 YEAR ago New post: Marcus Morris's Improvement
  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago I personally thought Markieff was real impressive last year. It must have killed Marcus seeing his brother getting minutes on an equally crappy team while he rotted on the bench. But I guess it all worked out.
  • RocketMan says 1 YEAR ago Interestingly, his brother Markief has played almost identical minutes for Pheonix this year and is getting very similar stats. Marcus is a little higher on shooting percentage, and Markief is doing better on rebounds/assists. It will be fun to compare these guys in a couple years. Imagine the consistency you would get if these two continued to improve similarly. You could give each guy 24 minutes and not change your production from starter to bench...
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago Hardwood Paroxysm has an article on Morris' improvement: http://www.hardwoodparoxysm.com/2012/11/21/everythings-coming-up-marcus/

    ST
  • Stephen says 1 YEAR ago While Morris might get burnt by SGs,he'll rarely defend them. That will be the job of Harden,Parsons,Delfino or whoever the Rockets eventually get for the back-up SG position.

    Morris got minutes early at the 4 because Patterson and Smith lost games early due to injuries and Jones,Motie and White aren't ready.
    Now that Pat and Smith are healthy,Morris' minutes at the 4 are going to decline.

    Rahat,
    Against Kobe,much like against LeBron,Morris stayed in front,moved his feet laterally staying in front of his man,and backed off a bit to prevent drives,giving up Js but contesting them. Smart positional defense that he could keep up for a stretch. Don't know how he'd hold up against them for a full game,as players at that level know how to successfully adapt to a defender,and he gives up jumpers-if his man is hot,too bad.
  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago

    Sir Thursday, on 21 November 2012 - 18:06 PM said:


    While I agree with your general point, I strongly disagree with the statement: "If he can stay with Lebron, he can stay with any wing." This is clearly not true. LeBron's blend of speed and strength is what makes him so dangerous, but he is emphatically not the quickest wing you will see on the court, and Morris is always going to be much more susceptible to fast players than he is to big ones. Do you think he would have been able to do a good job against a healthy Wade? What about someone like Lou Williams or even Kevin Martin? I think he will generally struggle against players would would previously have been termed shooting guards and now fall under the wing designation.

    That's not to say that that's a problem, per se. You're going to get cross-matches from time to time on the wing, but provided he is principally assigned to watch a small forward type player he should be fine.

    ST

    Sir Thursday - The second I typed all of that out, the thought which you articulated occurred to me. I agree. Morris would probably get roasted by some of the smaller wings.

    I'm interested to see when/if the Rockets plan on using him in the block. They don't have any other offensive options outside of Harden at this point.
  • Cooper says 1 YEAR ago Well to be fair wade is a SG and even some of the best defensive sgs can't stay with him so I wouldn't expect much from Morris in a situation with him guarding wade.
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago

    Rahat Huq, on 21 November 2012 - 16:57 PM said:


    Stephen - I'm glad you mentioned that (re: Morris' wing defense.) I didn't get to watch the Lakers game, but Morris' defense on Lebron was probably the most impressed I've been by him all year, even including his offensive moments. Aside from one or two tough turnarounds that he would have hit over anyone, Lebron really didn't do much against Morris. And this is the best player in the world. If he can stay with Lebron, he can stay with any wing. The question though is where is he best used offensively. We still haven't seen the postup game, but his ability to spread the floor from the '4' has kept him at the 4.


    While I agree with your general point, I strongly disagree with the statement: "If he can stay with Lebron, he can stay with any wing." This is clearly not true. LeBron's blend of speed and strength is what makes him so dangerous, but he is emphatically not the quickest wing you will see on the court, and Morris is always going to be much more susceptible to fast players than he is to big ones. Do you think he would have been able to do a good job against a healthy Wade? What about someone like Lou Williams or even Kevin Martin? I think he will generally struggle against players would would previously have been termed shooting guards and now fall under the wing designation.

    That's not to say that that's a problem, per se. You're going to get cross-matches from time to time on the wing, but provided he is principally assigned to watch a small forward type player he should be fine.

    ST
  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago Stephen - I'm glad you mentioned that (re: Morris' wing defense.) I didn't get to watch the Lakers game, but Morris' defense on Lebron was probably the most impressed I've been by him all year, even including his offensive moments. Aside from one or two tough turnarounds that he would have hit over anyone, Lebron really didn't do much against Morris. And this is the best player in the world. If he can stay with Lebron, he can stay with any wing. The question though is where is he best used offensively. We still haven't seen the postup game, but his ability to spread the floor from the '4' has kept him at the 4.
  • Stephen says 1 YEAR ago Speaking of Patterson,it looks like he's reached his ceiling.
    He's a good one-on-one defender,but a poor help defender unable to offer any weak-side defense. He's a positional defender who will contest shots but not block them.
    He's got a good mid-range jumper and knows how to quickly move to open spots on court. But he won't attack the basket and can only operate in low-post against bad defenders.

    In short,he's the perfect complement the Rockets were looking for to team with Yao. Put him beside any scoring,rebounding,shot-blocking C and he'll be a great fit. He's be a great third big on a contending team.(He's be darn near perfect on Boston or Miami for example.)
    Unfortunately,the Rockets aren't that kind of team. They need more from the PF and Pat doesn't have more to give.

    And as well as Morris has been playing,I think his future is at the SF,w/some small-ball PF thrown in. He didn't get abused by LeBron or Kobe,so it looks like he can defend the wing.
    NY can get away w/Carmelo at the 4,but in the West PFs actually play the PF position with the likes of Gasol,Randolph,Griffin,Duncan,Aldridge,Lee and eventually Love to contend with.

    That leaves on the current roster Jones and Motie.
    Right now Jones is thinking too much and playing like a clueless rookie...yet he's shown the tools that might-might-make him special. Other than Asik,he's the only Rocket who will block shots,he's shown flashes of being able to rebound out of his space and he is quick,quick,quick.(And he can fire up a crowd w/a spectacular play-not something that impresses the coaches,but is appreciated by the fans and sometimes it will inspire his teammates.)
    If he can get to the point where he's playing-and playing smart-not thinking about what he's going to do,he could be very good.

    But Motie may be the future at the PF. If he can adjust and learn the NBA successfully,he might be a Cousins/Z-Bo/Al Jefferson type PF,a consistent scorer who gets enough rebounds and isn't a sieve on D.
  • Stephen says 1 YEAR ago Summer League means nothing,but sometimes it does.
    In this Summer's first game Morris looked lost,the same as last yr.
    Then in the second half of the second game "it" clicked and he looked like a different player,one who got it.
    And he's been confident,aggressive ever since.
  • ObstructTheLore says 1 YEAR ago I think all he needed was consistent minutes, his brother got those minutes immediately last year and had a good year so I think his good play is here to stay.
  • blakecouey says 1 YEAR ago I think he can easily become the 6th man that is needed for a contender.
  • Sir Thursday says 1 YEAR ago I've loved what Morris has brought so far. He looks confident and capable of both efficient scoring and great hustle plays. I'm reserving judgement until he's kept up these shooting percentages for a bit longer, but if he can continue in this vein he's going to make an excellent 6th man (well, I guess he'll be sharing with Delfino for that title, but you know what I mean).

    ST
  • Cooper says 1 YEAR ago Glad Morris is playing well not sure about his prospects as a long term starter on a contending team but he seems like a good scoring punch off the bench.
  • LMAOwais says 1 YEAR ago Regarding Lin: Of course everybody wanted Linsanity, but Morey signed knowing full well, having stated it multiple times, the possibility and likelihood that Lin might not produce at that level for an entire season. He did recognize his abilities overall and I think Lin has proved more than capable of being an above average NBA point guard. So...I wouldn't attempt to classify Lin as some monumental disappoint, especially this early into a season on a newly built team, coming back from injury, in an offense that isn't requiring him to run PnR as often as did in NY, etc. ad nauseum. There is no need to be so polarized by Lin as to cast judgement on him in extreme fashion immediately or play apologist for him for his shortcomings. This is probably the most frustrating thing about Lin, his fans/detractors... that and his shooting.

    Lin aside, considering OP was about MARCUS MORRIS, M&M has absolutely surprised me. I think it was during the preseason I still wasn't convinced that he was going to be of any worth and had all but written him, reserving for him only pity. But boy doI love it when Rockets players make me eat crow. He's rolled with the punches and taken the negative (injury, D-league stint) in stride. His confidence is where it needs to be, he's shown a great deal of initiative on defense, he's knocking down 3's with reckless abandon. I'd like to see where he stands taking people off the dribble a bit more and perhaps working on a back-to-the-basket repertoire, but all in all Marcus Morris has made it incredibly easy to root for him, whereas a while a go many of us were wishing he would just get off the court.
  • inpropagation says 1 YEAR ago well, at least he's not rafer alston.
  • Slap Dog Hoops says 1 YEAR ago Too bad it has not been the same with Jeremy Lin. Although despite his offensive woes he has done a moderate job handling at the point on the offensive end averaging 6.6 assists per game and defensively averaging 4.5 rebounds (pretty high for a PG) and 2.0 steals (one of the league's best). But he was not signed just to be "moderate." Rockets fan along with the organization wanted "LINSANITY." Unfortunately, it seems rather apparent that Linsanity is now DEAD.