Waaay too in depth Marcus Morris season preview.
Also in case you missed it, I've decided to try Podcasting.
Where he stands now:
Marcus enters this year with 3 more (including this year) years on his contract averaging 5 million per year (thanks Suns. Love you.) on what is quite possibly the most absurd non-Curry contract in basketball. He enters training camp as the starting SF, and unless something drastic happens he will be the starter to open the season. He is currently 27 and will be for the entire season so he is basically the old fart in the starting lineup.
What to generally expect next year:
Marcus figures to be one of the steadier presences on the team once again, and he also is the guy who probably has the least amount of questions around his game. Expect him to be a solid 2 way player who has a super fun dynamic playing alongside Tobias Harris. Even so, there is still room for improvement for Marcus on the offensive side of the ball, he hopefully will not have to play so many minutes this year, after playing just under 36 per game last year (finishing 5th in the NBA last year in minutes) since Stanley Johnson should be able to take on more minutes. But I would be surprised if he fell below 30 per game.
Essentially, he will be a steady 2 way presence for the team who can do a little bit of everything. Nothing more nothing less.
Offensively Marcus should (once again) be largely what he was last year but in a bit of a smaller role. He will probably shoot 36% from 3 which means he will have a chance to be the starting lineup's best shooter (which is a bit concerning) and he will also act as a secondary ball handler/safety valve bucket getter. Just as I ranted and raved about last year, he will have plenty of opportunities to attack mismatches created by the Mobias combination. The best example was this game against the Mavericks, Morris had a huge game, and it was largely courtesy of spending most of the game being guarded by Dirk. He also lead the team in scoring in the playoffs at just under 18 per game, which once again, is largely because LeBron was guarding Tobias leaving Morris to go at Kevin Love. Just like last year, Morris will have to show good decision making as to when it is time to go iso and when to just be another cog in the offense. When he has a good matchup they can almost run the offense through him exclusively, but against other guys he just is not good enough to warrant running much for him. And FWIW, he did a great job of this last year, the only thing that will make it a bit trickier this year is that he figures to have a less steady diet of isolation plays called for him. Since Tobias is a better iso scorer than Morris he figures to eat up a fairly large amount of those plays.
The other area for adjustment will be with the bench mob, as Morris spent a lot of time last year playing with the bench where he essentially ran the offense (and he should have been all year. The KCP lead bench mob was a disaster.) but with Ish Smith on board and Johnson making improvements there figures to be less of a need for Morris to carry the bench.
The main area that Morris could see some continued improvement in his game, even though he is 27, is in his passing and ball handling. He was the ball handler in more pick and rolls last year than he had been in the rest of his career combined, and he showed real promise as a passer both out of the pick and roll and as a ball mover on the outside. As he transitions into a role where he has the ball in his hands less, his passing will become more important and he will need to continue to be the best ball mover in the starting lineup. (By “ball mover” I mean when he is out on the perimeter and they are just passing the ball around, Marcus was the most consistent guy in making quick decisions. This is also something that Reggie Bullock is a freaking king of.)
Essentially, the Pistons need Morris to do more of what he has done, but in smaller doses which will hopefully result in higher efficiency. And going off of last year following the Tobias trade, there is good reason to believe he can do it.
There is not a ton to say here, because I think Marcus is pretty much what he is on defense. He is big, strong, and physical, with a great ability to use his physicality without fouling. He is a solid defensive player who plays hard, fights for every inch, and keeps his head on a swivel for steals, but is not any type of elite defensive player, just pretty good. He also is likely best guarding opposing wing players where he can use his size to good effect, as he seemed to not do as well when put against opposing 4s that were bigger and more physical. Hopefully Stanley Johnson improves enough to the point where Morris will not be asked to spend so much time guarding the elite scoring wings of the NBA, but he will certainly get a lot of that again, and quite frankly if he just plays defense like he did last year it will be fine. He is the sort of veteran defensive player that you need for a good defense to be built.
I love Marcus, anyone who has read anything I have done knows this. But I am not ready to say we are totally out of the woods with Marcus' attitude, if he is a model citizen and even a downright leader in the locker room and on the floor again this year I will put this issue to bed with Morris. But the thing to remember about last year is that Morris really had nothing to complain about, he played the 5th most minutes in basketball, got to be THE featured guy with the bench mob for a few minutes a night, got a steady diet of isolation plays the rest of the time, and the team was winning games. He got pretty much everything that he could have asked for, this year though, with Tobias and Stanley, his role will be at least slightly diminished. So there is still at least some worry that he will remain such a good trooper while getting fewer touches and less playing time. I don't think there will be an issue based on last year, but I can't say with total certainty that he won't do something stupid.
All that said, I expect him to be fine, he played his tail off all year and he seems to be a perfect fit with SVG (both are no bull shit types) and, based on twitter, he is pretty close with Stanley Johnson so I don't think Stanley taking some minutes from him will cause too many issues. I am expecting him to continue to be a steadying presence again, particularly on the court, how many games where getting out of hand last year until Marcus just put his head down and got a few tough buckets? Guys respect that, and so do I.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Marcus is shooting 40% from 3.
A national writer/announcer uses the “Mobias” name.
Marcus is carving up overmatched defenders while Tobias takes the harder guys.
There are more stories about what a great leader Marcus is.
Run for the hills if:
His efficiency does not improve with the lessened role.
He starts to seek points outside the offense.
Marcus starts to rack up technical fouls.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Marcus averages about the same points and assists but with greater efficiency.
Morris plays 30 minutes per game.
The Mobias monster is awesome with one of the 2 scoring 20 points in almost every game.
Marcus has no issues off or on the court and is a model citizen once again.
What do you think? How will Marcus do this year? Let me know! We all get smarter!
I meant to do this sooner, but you may have seen that I have been doing some writing for a website called Fadeaway World. They did not tell me to give them a shout but I'm going to anyways, because I am writing general NBA stuff for them, but they are allowing me to keep doing Pistons stuff just as I did before and that is super cool. I had received like 7 really crappy offers from various people to write for them over the past year, and the fellows at Fadeaway World were the first ones to take me seriously as a writer/whatever. So yeah, big shouts to them.