On Fortson, Ariza, Morris

Very tough loss yesterday from the good guys.  Suddenly, Phoenix has closed the gap in the standings.  Unless Kyle Lowry gets back quickly, this will be an uphill battle.  A few thoughts from last night’s game:

  • Courtney Fortson has been pretty painful to watch in his two appearances thus far, and by that I mean that I teeter on the edge of cardiac arrest when he dribbles.  He bounces the ball so high that you feel he’s on the verge of losing it at any moment.  With that said, the kid is no doubt nervous and you really root for him to do well – he’s basically a normal guy trying to make it with the stars.
  • That stretch last night when Dragic sat in the first half–and the game was lost–illustrates the difficulty of playing point guard in the NBA.  I think back to the Trevor Ariza saga and realize that most people don’t really understand how difficult it is to create shots and initiate an offense.  People see a guy like Courtney Lee who can bring the ball up comfortably and seems to have functional handles and naturally assume he can run an offense.  This is what happened when the team signed Ariza – many people thought he could be like McGrady.  The logic was hopelessly flawed.  Playing point/creating/initiating in the NBA requires so much more than just dribbling, from vision, to awareness, to a heightened level of body control.  (For much, much, much more commentary on this topic, see my ‘Assessing Ariza’ series.)
  • Marcus Morris once again saw minutes with the team playing short-handed.  He hit a nice turnaround on the baseline, but overall, like the previous night, didn’t do much offensively.  He played pretty well defensively, however, which was encouraging as the issue of whether he could keep pace with perimeter players was the primary concern.  He was able to stay in front of Jared Dudley and for the most part, Michael Redd.  While Redd did score on a foul, it’s not an issue – he’s a shooting guard; not even a small forward.  Some observations or I guess, affirmations, on Morris – he doesn’t have that athletic explosion.  No burst.  We knew this though.  A lot of rookies are able to come in and impress and earn more playing time just by scrapping, without the ball.  I think back to Carl Landry’s rookie year when he came in and dunked back every offensive board in sight, earning himself a spot in the rotation.  Morris can’t do that because he doesn’t have the athleticism to get those loose balls.  For him to be effective, he will need the ball, and therein lies the problem because as a rookie, he isn’t going to get the ball.  Another example: Chandler Parsons and Patterson earned their spots by playing smart defense and picking their spots offensively.  Marcus Morris’ value is as a one-on-one offensive player.  See now why they kept him in the D-League?  The few times he was able to pin his man down in the post, he looked pretty good.  So calm down on Morris – it’s too soon to worry.
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