We all know the story here. After a couple of seasons together with his brother Markieff here in Phoenix, this summer Marcus was traded to the Pistons in what appeared to be an effort to clear cap space for LaMarcus Aldridge. Marcus was not shy about his disapproval of the Suns and his role on the team. It also led to Markieff wanting out.
As it stands, Marcus is still as displeased as ever, while Markieff has decided to not address what happened in the past and is "glad to be back with the team." With it being four months sine Marcus was dealt and this being a game preview, let's take a look at the basketball side of this.
Marcus has the tools to be a useful NBA rotation player. He's good at creating his own shot, has the size to play small ball four, and is the much better three-point shooter of the twins. That's important in today's NBA. However, he has always struggled with efficiency when it comes to creating his own offense and was brutal on defense last season, finishing right in-between Dirk Nowitzki and Charlie Villanueva in Defensive Real Plus-Minus.
The bottom line on the trade in my opinion is the Suns took a risk by giving up a legitimate basketball asset in Marcus for nothing but hope, but at the same time they cleaned up their wing rotation and aren't going to have many moments this season when they regret the deal from a basketball standpoint. It looks like the gamble of pissing off Markieff has paid off for now, but that story has not arrived at it's conclusion quite yet. As you can tell, there are two different ways of looking at the situation.
As for Marcus' time in Detroit so far, it's been roughly what it was in Phoenix. Despite what the Morrii and others have been saying, in four games Marcus is averaging around the same Per 36 numbers that he did with the Suns.
Take those stats and call it whatever you want. I tend to agree with those that feel that Marcus is just an "average" NBA player.
In terms of a basketball role for himself, Marcus is in a great situation. He's the best shot creator in the starting five and is going to get a lot of open three-point looks because of their head coach and the monstrous Andre Drummond. It's a severely limited bench with only a rookie threatening for some of Marcus' minutes, so he should average around 34-38 minutes per game.
As for the game tonight, I expect an extremely aggressive Marcus Morris. I'd expect a lot of his Carmelo Anthony impression of jab steps and crossovers followed by a jumper from the midrange. Van Gundy will almost certainly look to run a set for him the first play. I also expect P.J. Tucker to have an extra edge to his game on both ends, with someone trying to show up his team.
Taking all of that in, I can't wait for tonight.
Onward to the basketball game!
Looking at the schedule, it's been a strange start of the season for the Phoenix Suns. Two wins in two days over the Portland Trailblazers who might be good (?), a blowout win that took a little bit too long to materialize against the Boogie-less Sacramento Kings, a complete meltdown loss to the Dallas Mavericks, and a great battle against one of the best teams in the NBA in the Los Angeles Clippers.
Tonight's game against the Detroit Pistons figures to be a little more normal. The Suns look like the better team, but the Pistons are in the same range as the Suns in that they are battling for one of the last playoff spots in their conference. The game starts at 7:30 p.m., with TV coverage on Fox Sports Arizona and radio coverage on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
It all starts with Andre Drummond. The former UCONN big man has always been one of the best rebounders in the NBA, but a formidable pick-and-roll game with Reggie Jackson has turned him into a dominant big man early this season. Drummond is averaging 7.5 OFFENSIVE rebounds a game through four games and his overall 20.3 PPG and 19.5 RPG line is absurd.
Some of the credit for the duo's success is the spacing Stan Van Gundy has created. The aforementioned Morris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Ersan Ilyasova all project as league average or better three-point shooters. On the season, Morris is shooting 39%, KCP is shooting 30%, and Ilyasova is shooting 41%. The biggest surprise for the shooting numbers might be Jackson shooting 40% on the season, who is a 30% shooter for his career.
Caldwell-Pope has had one of the strangest draft processes in the past couple of years. The former Georgia player was given a free pass by many because of how poor the players were around him on his college team. He was seen as a marksman from deep, but shot 30% and 37% in his two seasons. Those results thus far have held in his NBA career, with a 34% average.
He passed well for a wing and projected to be a great defender, two things that would land him squarely in the DTA (defense, threes, athleticism) grouping for what you want out of a wing player these days. However, he's averaged 1.0 assists in his career and was 33rd in DRPM out of 85 shooting guards last season. I personally still believe in KCP and think he's going to be a very valuable role player at some point in his career, but you have to wonder when Detroit moves on.
Outside of the starting five is where it starts to get rough for the Pistons. Stanley Johnson is going through the rookie motions, Anthony Tolliver is strictly a shooter, and then we arrive at Steve Blake. That's why the Pistons have three starters averaging 38+ minutes.
The Suns should be able to take advantage of the lack of depth both when the bench is in and when the starters are getting tired later on in the game. After the Detroit game, the Suns have only two games in six days so I'd expect for the rotation to be tighter if Hornacek feels the need. This reeks of a big game from T.J. Warren and Alex Len.