Phoenix Suns Player Evaluation: Markieff Morris

Not a bad draft pick, eh?

Here at Bright Side of the Sun we take the words TOTAL COVERAGE pretty dang seriously.

While our beloved Suns are off taking nice vacations, we are still slaving away, attempting to provide you all with first class Suns coverage.

So friends, without further adieu, we present you with the Phoenix Suns Season in Review, 2011-12.

Today's review will be Markieff Morris.


With the 13th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns selected Markieff Morris, a 6-foot-9, 240 pound power forward from Kansas University.

When the pick was announced, many voiced their displeasure, lamenting that the Suns had once again picked the lesser brother, as Keef's twin Marcus was the more talented scorer at Lawrence. Now, after a relatively strong season by Markieff and a rookie campaign that consisted of 17 games played and multiple D-League assignments for Marcus, the Suns appear to have made the right choice.

Make the jump for a look at how Keef did in his first season as a pro.

First, Let's get the stats out of the way.

Basic Per Game Stats:

Per 36 Minutes:

Advanced:

There is a lot to like, and a lot to dislike in these tables.Let's look at the positives and negatives he showed us during his rookie season.

Positives

Morris showed flashes throughout the season of being a very valuable player for the Suns. He had a handful of great performances for the Suns this season, including a 13-10 double-double and three 20-plus point games.

Early in the year, he was a deadly 3-point shooter, connecting on over 48 percent of his 3-point attempts in December and January.

He has also shown the ability to score in other ways. He's faced up opposing bigs and either shot over the top of them or used the dribble to get to the basket. He's also show some back-to-the-basket skill, busting out some nice post moves now and then.

Morris finished fourth among rookie power forwards in total rebounds, so he's not afraid to get in the paint and mix it up. We all know he doesn't back down from anyone.

Negatives

Morris' shooting touch fell off a cliff in the second half of the season and he finished the year shooting only 34.7 percent from behind the arc. Many here felt he settled for the jumper way too often, and that is backed up in the numbers. MySynergySports.com says that 26.6 percent of Morris's plays were in spot-up situations, despite the fact that he shot only 38.9 percent on those plays.

While Morris does show potential as a face-up man and post scorer, potential is all it is at this point. Keef shot 39.4 percent on isolation plays and 39.3 percent in post-up situations. He has some moves, but that doesn't really matter if he can't put the ball in the hoop.

While he does give effort, Morris simply is not a good defender. He commits fouls at an incredibly high rate (5.3 PFs per 36) which often prevents him from staying on the floor for any length of time. That is not all that surprising for a rookie, but he has to improve heading into next year.

Conclusion

Kieff has a lot of things to work on, but the most important one right now is putting the ball through the rim. He is simply not a good finisher at the moment. He needs to spend a lot of time this summer shooting jumpers and working on finishing in the paint.

To expect him to replicate the near-50 percent shooting from deep from the first 2 months of the season would be unrealistic. However, he was a 40-percent shooter in college, so his touch from deep wasn't a complete flash in the plan. A big problem is his release. He needs to work on getting his shot off much quicker, as it takes him far too long to square up and shoot.

A lot of his defensive problems could improve now that he has a full season under it's belt. It is often difficult for rookies to adjust defensively to the NBA game, and Keef was no different. Morris said he intends to get stronger during the offseason and he feels that will help him hold his own better defensively.

However, it is difficult to be disappointed in his season considering the circumstances. He was the 13th pick in a weak draft. He was thrust into the rotation with no training camp or Summer League or really any offseason preparation to speak of. Morris also played twice as many games as he did last year at Kansas, and by his own admission he tired out both mentally and physically and hit the rookie wall. Toss in a couple of illnesses and it wasn't an easy year for Markieff.

Overall, I'd give him a solid B.

Check out Bright Side of the Sun's Youtube channel for Morris's exit interview (skip to the 6:15 mark to hear Kieff).

Just for fun, let's take a look at some other power forwards who were drafted in the first round last year and how they compare to Kieff.

Pick Player Team Minutes Per Game Points Per Game Rebounds Per Game Field Goal Percentage
2 Derrick Williams MIN 21.5 8.8 4.7 41.2
4 Tristan Thompson CLE 23.7 8.2 6.5 43.9
7 Jan Vesely WAS 18.9 4.7 4.4 53.7
8 Bismack Biyombo CHA 23.1 5.2 5.8 46.4
13 Markieff Morris PHX 19.5 7.4 4.4 39.9
14 Marcus Morris HOU 7.4 2.4 0.9 29.6
22 Kenneth Faried DEN 22.5 10.2 7.7 58.6
27 JaJuan Johnson BOS 8.3 3.2 1.6 44.6

Looking at these numbers, the Manimal is a beast of a rookie (I guess you were right Beavis), while everyone else was somewhat disappointing (this was a really weak class). Kieff's numbers are comparable to or better than most of the other bigs drafted in the first round.

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