Markieff Morris Is No Ordinary Rookie
When Markieff Morris was selected 13th by the Phoenix Suns in the 2011 NBA Draft most of the media attention was focused on him and his brother Marcus, who was selected 14th, being twins, as opposed to what he can bring to the Suns. Markieff is quickly changing that.
Morris has started the season on fire shooting 47.3% from the field and 48.5% from behind the arc. In just over 21 minutes per game he is also averaging 5.4 rebounds per game.
“Coach is giving me time and I’m just playing. I just go out and play basketball like I’ve been doing my entire life,” Morris told HOOPSWORLD. “I’m excited to be in the league and a part of the Phoenix Suns and I’m just having a great time.”
With the compressed schedule, Morris is getting used to playing as many games in two weeks as he did during a month in college. Fortunately, he has taken the advice of veterans Grant Hill and Steve Nash in the hope of staying fresh all season.
“First thing is to take care of my body. You’ve got to be healthy to play in this league. Second is to play as hard as possible and to always listen.” Morris goes on to say, “We are only 12 games in, so down the road it probably will get harder. I’ve got to just keep taking care of my body and making sure I’m ready.”
The hot start has Morris on the short list of candidates to make the rookie team during the NBA All-Star Rookie Challenge, but Morris is more concerned with his team then individual goals.
“For me it’s really about winning. It’s not about individual goals, but for us to just keep getting better as a team every day and hopefully make the playoffs.” Morris continued, “I need to play as hard as possible, try to steal extra possessions and just try and pick my teammates up.
“We can be a great team, we’ve got a lot of team chemistry. Right now we are still trying to find ourselves and it’s coming along, but we just have to keep working hard.”
Morris’ willingness to sacrifice individual statistics and his ability to play multiple positions has already proven to be an asset in the early going of this lockout shortened season, and his teammates have begun to take notice.
“(Morris) has brought a lot to the team. I think he brings energy, I think he brings another shooting big guy. He is shooting great from the outside. I don’t want to say shock and awe, but a lot of people didn’t know he could do that,” veteran power forward Channing Frye told HOOPSWORLD.
“He’s a great guy, a great player and he’s going to be good for us and I think he gives coach another multi-talented player. You can play him at three different positions.”
Head coach Alvin Gentry has also been impressed with Morris, especially his confidence and the toughness he has shown on the court.
“He’s still a rookie and he’s still learning, but he’s brought a sense of toughness with him. I think he’s brought a sense of confidence of playing against guys and he’s shot the ball well from the perimeter and he’s rebounded well.” Gentry told HOOPSWORLD. “He’s in the process of learning, but I think that he feels comfortable out there.”
However, Gentry also knows Morris has a long way to go before he reaches his potential, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“He’s just got to work on everything, he’s got to work on defensive schemes, defensive rotations, he’s got to work on closeouts. There are a lot of things that he needs to continue to work on to get better at, but he’s got the basic skills to be a very good player.”
No matter what Morris achieves on the court, part of the story will always be the connection he has with his twin brother. While the brothers continue to be close, Markieff has no doubt that it was time for them to walk their own paths.
“I talk to him everyday. Him and me we are inseparable, but this is our job now and we are old enough to know that we still have to produce when we are by ourselves. I think we definitely needed this time apart to find ourselves as men and as basketball players.”
There is no doubt Markieff is finding himself on the court with the Suns; the only question remaining is how good can he be?