At Media Day, Jim and I caught up with second-year power forward Markieff Morris in an exclusive interview to talk about his rookie season and what he expects this next year.
He spent most of the summer in Phoenix, only returning to Philadelphia a few times, to work on post moves, rebounding and becoming a more "defensive-minded player." Markieff spent much of his gym time right alongside brother Marcus, making up for lost time during their rookie seasons.
"I watched tape of defensive possessions last year, and I saw I played defense with my hands too much, Morris said. "So I got to do a better job, and I worked on that in the offseason."
Assistant coach Elston Turner, who we caught up with in a separate exclusive, concurred.
"We spent a huge amount of time this summer working with him," Turner said. "He has all the tools. If you can move, if you can run, if you can jump. [Compared to his college reputation as a defender] it's a different league for him. A lot of guys at his position are bigger than him, and he's ... going to have to man up. That shouldn't matter - you just play a certain way no matter who you're playing against."
What does Morris need to work on the most?
"Playing 'til you're uncomfortable," Turner said, after a moment of thought. "There's a comfort zone if you're used to playing a certain way where you came from, that's the way you play when you get here.
"But we want him to play a little bit more upbeat, a little bit more energetic. He has a tremendous amount of talent. I am expecting him to outrun most bigs that are guarding him."
Morris has also been working on his post moves, which he showed off a bit in July summer league. He wasn't finishing at a high clip, but he was aggressive on both ends of the court. The Markieff Morris of the summer league can really help this Suns team in 2012-13.
"We are expecting big things from him," Turner said. "On both ends of the floor."