2014-15 season outlook: Marcus and Markieff Morris
Hunker down, get hydrated and tell your loved ones you will see them next spring.
Hopefully that’s not your mindset, but people should be warned: The at times seemingly never-ending NBA regular season is at hand.
The first handful of games tipped off Tuesday, marking the start of the 82-game grind.
Thankfully for us, all we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy. To make sure you’re fully prepared for the 2014-15 campaign, we’ll be rolling out a season outlook for each former Kansas University player who currently calls The Association home.
Marcus and Markieff Morris — Phoenix Suns
Marcus: 6-foot-9 Small forward | Fourth season
Markieff: 6-foot-10 Power forward | Fourth season
Marcus 2013-14 numbers: 82 games | 22.0 minutes | 9.7 points | 3.9 rebounds | 44.2 FG% | 38.1 3-pt% | 76.1 FT%
Markieff 2013-14 numbers: 81 games | 26.6 minutes | 13.8 points | 6.0 rebounds | 48.6 FG% | 31.5 3-pt% | 79.2 FT%
When twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris left KU for the NBA in 2011, it seemed unlikely they would ever be able to call each other teammates again.
But now it looks like they could spend the prime of their careers — if not longer — together. Phoenix signed the Morris bros. to four-year contract extensions just before the start of training camp, meaning they will (barring a trade of one or both of them) share the same Suns locker room through at least the end of the 2018-19 season.
At the press conference announcing their new deals, the Philadelphia natives showed their excitement about spending the foreseeable future in the desert.
Said Marcus: “From the day I got traded here, it just felt like it was right.”
Markieff said neither of them were even thinking about contracts when Phoenix approached them about locking them up.
“We were just getting ready for the season. It kind of hit us and came out of nowhere, actually,” Markieff added.
After making a run at the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season, Markieff (13.8 points, 6.0 rebounds in his third year) won’t be eligible for that hardware this time around. Coach Jeff Hornacek wisely moved the big man into the starting five, where Markieff can play a stretch-power forward or even a stretch-center spot, knocking down jumpers when Phoenix’s trio of explosive guards — Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas — attack the paint.
That means Markieff could put himself in the hunt for another award: Most Improved Player. More minutes and better stats are ahead for him.
Then again, maybe he’ll have to fight off Marcus for that honor, because he could end up as a starter for the Suns, too.
Marcus averaged 9.7 points and 3.9 rebounds last season in 4.6 fewer minutes a game than his twin brother last season. But Marcus started five games for Phoenix in the preseason, he and Markieff work extremely well as a tandem, and his only competition for minutes at small forward comes from P.J. Tucker, and rookie T.J. Warren. The one player who could eat away at his minutes is two-guard Gerald Green, because Phoenix figures to fly up and down the floor and use smaller lineups.
So what do we expect out of The Morrii for the 2014-15 season?
Career numbers from each of them, for one thing. The twins figure to have even more confidence after inking those new deals and they mesh well with Phoenix’s style/strengths.
The Suns won 48 games last season and missed the playoffs. That’s crazy. That’s also life in the Western Conference. You could easily argue that all eight teams who finished ahead of Phoenix last year — San Antonio, Oklahoma City, L.A. Clippers, Houston, Portland, Golden State, Memphis and Dallas — are capable of doing so again.
But if the Morris twins and the rest of the Suns stay healthy and one of those other teams suffers some kind of blow, there is at least one playoff berth for the taking. Or Phoenix just keeps getting better and supplants Memphis or Dallas. You never know.
’Hawks in the NBA 2014-15 season outlooks: