Season Preview: Marcus Morris
One of the new additions for this year's team. Acquired in a trade with Phoenix in their bid to sign LaMarcus Aldridge. He, Reggie Bullock, and Danny Granger were all sent to Detroit, in exchange for a 2020 2nd round pick(!!!!).
I generally try my best not to worry too much about guys contracts and how good certain deals are and whatnot, (I'd rather just focus on the basketball) HOWEVA. This was a great trade for the Pistons. I don't know for sure how many teams were offered this deal (or similar ones) by the Suns. (since they likely were looking to dump the salary to anyone who would take it) But huge props to SVG for snagging it. At the very least, Morris is a competent rotation player who is on an excellent contract (~5 mil a year) through 2019(!), even if Reggie Bullock ends up sucking, which may or may not happen, the worst version of Morris would be an excellent 2nd round draft pick. And the Pistons have him under contract for (likely) his best years. (he will be 29 when his contract is up) So I just thought I would throw that out there. About Last year: He played the whole season with the Suns, usually coming off the bench but a serious rotation piece playing around 25 minutes a game. His role was largely to be a creator for his own shot off the bench, and be able to hit spot up 3s when called upon to do so. He was also very good at getting technical fouls. While if you ask most Suns fans at the moment, they will generally have poor opinions of the Morris twins, but looking back at the past season, there was a generally positive opinion of him. The "poor mans Rasheed" is not a horrible comparison, other than that (so far at least) Morris is no where near the player Sheed was. But it works in that he is generally a good player who has a tendency to do dumb-ass things on occasion.
To infinity and beyond (this year and the future): Let it be noted that I am VERY high on Morris, which I will explain, however I do not know literally anyone who thinks he will do as well as I think he will. So just keep that in mind, I am probably being overly optimistic. Personally, I believe he will have a real breakout year, and will be one of the most important additions to the team. Here's why. He will a huge reason for improvement this year first off, because last year we went through stretches where Caron Butler and Anthony Tolliver were our starting forwards and we as fans couldn't really even complain when looking at the rest of the roster. Beyond that though, he could end up being the perfect fit for the team. Last year the Pistons really lacked in 2 big areas: 1. anyone who didn't suck to play forward. 2. A secondary creator for the offense when the PnR breaks down. And guess what Marcus Morris excels at? 1. Being a forward (that is in fact his position) 2. Getting his own shot. He fits in so nicely to that mold. He can also play either forward spot. He will be a little undersized against bigger 4s, but even if his effort on D has been at times lacking. One thing that is unquestioned is his toughness. He is at least scrappy enough to bang some down low with bigger dudes. He also is poised for a breakout year because he is a bit of a classic case of "just needs the opportunity." With the suns (and Houston) they tried to make him be a 3 and D guy, who occasionally went off script to try and create for himself. The breakneck pace the Suns played at did not really lend itself to a guy who's best skill is sizing up someone and taking them in the midrange. They also had several other guys (including his twin) who were pretty good at creating their own shots, and several of them, (once again including his twin) were actually better than him at that. As such, he was not given a ton of lee way to try and do his own thing. Here in Detroit, there is no question. He is out best midrange/post up player and shot creator. He also can create some very real matchup problems. He is tall enough to shoot over a lot of wing players, and quick enough to get open against bigger forwards. Which once again, I think if the Pistons are aggressive in getting him into mismatches, he could be damn near lethal in many games. The real trick to his potential success will be how smart he can play. Even though he is good at creating his own shot, and will likely get plenty of chances to show that. When playing with the starters, he will still be the secondary option. He needs to be able to get a balance and know when it is time to attack, and when it is time to play inside the offense. Most notably, he needs to recognize when he has a good matchup, and when he does not. Looking at the preseason, when he has Joakim Noah on him, Mook is too quick so he can attack a bit. But when Paul George is on him? That's time to just keep the ball moving and take open shots created by others. Playing this sort of smart basketball has incidentally been one of his biggest problems this year, however SVG has a way of getting the most out of these guys. And he is going to be getting a bigger role than he has ever had, so I have some faith he will improve at least a little bit with his decision making. I would also guess that his 3 point percentage will increase, just because spotting up around a PnR involving Andre Drummond tends to end in some WIDE open jumpers.
I don't talk a ton about defense because it is much easier to sound stupid since I am not some guru who can watch and really tell how good some dude is on D unless it is really good or really bad. My general feeling is that Morris is the type who is generally a pretty capable (and even versatile) defender when he is locked in, but has some issues staying locked in. And even when locked in, he is not a lock down guy. So he does not fill in the one role the team needs filled in "wing stopper" (although either KCP or Stanley Johnson could certainly fill that) However, I would guess that he will overall be a slight plus on D. He would generally come out as a pretty neutral but SVG has a history of making guys play better D than you would think. So I will hope for a slight plus.
I also think that there is a good chance that by the end of the year Morris at the 4 and Johnson at the 3 may be the teams best starting lineup. Morris is not quite as good a shooter as Ersan but he is more valuable against any team that tries to go small. If Ersan sets a good pick and gets the opposing point guard on him, he can theoretically just shoot over said point guard. But Ersan won't kill an opposing team like that. If Morris can get switched onto smaller guys with consistency he should be able to absolutely kill opposing teams. And even without him as the pick setter, Jackson/Drummond PnRs (should) cause some amount of havoc on opposing defenses, and Morris is able to take better advantage of that. But who knows for sure. (I am going to look more in depth at what lineups should work best with the forwards in another post so we will see then.)
Cackle with knowing glee if:
-Morris is destroying smaller guys in the mid range while the opposing team's analytics guy looks stupefied how a guy can be so damn effective while taking such low value shots.
-Morris is not regularly making you say "You freaking idiot"
-His chipiness (if that is not a word it is now dammit) rubs off on the rest of the team a little bit and opposing players start to complain about how physical and tough the Pistons are.
-His beard becomes more glorious than anything else on this team. (seriously, I dig the beard)
Run for the hills if:
-He is regularly making you say "You freaking idiot"
-He is passing up wide open threes to take contested fadeaways just inside the three point line with 20 seconds still on the shot clock.
-His chipiness rubs off too much on the team and the Pistons are constantly hurting themselves with Technical fouls.
-Smaller guys are not getting destroyed by him.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
-Morris averages upwards of 15 points a game and shoots close to 40% from deep. -He improves enough that he actually is a poor man's Sheed and everyone is like "You traded what for him?? And you're paying him what????" -Reggie Jackson regrets paying all of his technical foul fines.
What do you think? Think I'm an idiot? Let me know! We all get smarter!