Markieff Morris 2012 Season Recap


Here at Through the Phog, we like to take a look at the players who used to star for the Kansas Jayhawks and check in on how they are doing in the pros. Phoenix Suns big man Markieff Morris had an encouraging rookie season for the team and was one of the top ten rookies last year.

The 22-year-old first-rounder was in the 2012 Rising Stars Challenge and showed his high motor and rebounding intensity that help make him a star in Lawrence. Morris averaged a healthy 14-8-2 every 36 minutes with 1.2 blocks and steals apiece per 36 to supplement those totals.

He took jump shots 75% of the time, but they weren’t an efficient shot for him. Markieff Morris finished with a 48.4 TS% and averaged just .97 points per play while giving up 1.04 points per play. Morris’s defense was sound, and he grabbed a rebound a solid 12.8% of the time, but his offense left a little bit more to be desired.

That’s a problem for a player who is using up a little over a fifth of the team’s possessions while on the floor, which is why he needs to work on his shooting. If Morris is going to take mid-range shots, then he better hit them at a better clip.

Even so, Markieff Morris was one of the best defensive big men in the recent rookie class due to his solid rebounding and versatility as a defensive player. Although he finished with a poor 12.1 PER, he held opposing small forward to a 12.1 PER while having a 13.8 PER at the position himself.

Thus, Morris, like most rookie bigs, was better at defending SFs than PFs and struggled against the bigger players in the NBA. He fit in better as a small forward last season, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play power forward and transition to small forward. Far from it; this guy is a PF. But it does show that Morris has the potential to be a quality player due to his defense that overcomes his current offensive deficiencies.

Markieff Morris will work on his game this offseason, and he should become one of the better defensive big men in the near future. He was below-average last season statistically, but he was above-average as a rookie coming into the NBA and making a solid defensive impact for the Suns. The future is bright for Morris, especially if he can continue to develop the inside moves that he was showing off as the season wore on.

“He’s highly skilled,” Lon Babby said. “He’s got to turn his motor up and have a certain intensity. He gave us a toughness that we don’t get from anybody else and that’s good. He’s got to learn the pace of a NBA season and he’s got to bring it every single night with an intensity. He got tired, so that was part of it. He’s got to develop, obviously, from a skill standpoint and physical standpoint. All those things will happen. He’s going to be a good player. He already is pretty good. I think he’s going to be a part of this team for a long, long time.”

I think he is as well, as he showed potential and had flashes of brilliance. Morris did wear down at times and was sick during the season, but he showed that there is room and upside for the Suns to work with. He did have some growing pains, but he is young and the lockout negatively affected the incoming rooks. Markieff Morris is going to be a solid starter for this Suns team, and he is one of the players whom Suns fans value highly. By the way, the Suns are my favorite team, and having two young, quality bigs who aren’t enigmas is a relief.

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