PHOENIX — In the guard-dominated league that is the NBA these days, the center position is a coveted one. There are very few currently playing the position who would be considered elite in any...

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Heading into the 2012-13 season, Marcin Gortat and Goran Dragic were supposed to be the focal points of the Phoenix Suns’ offense. It was assumed by many that Goran Dragic would seamlessly fill Steve...

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PHOENIX – Nobody was ever asking for Goran Dragic to be Steve Nash, but the two-time MVP’s time in Phoenix still hangs as an impossible measuring stick. Dragic is doing his best to vault his...

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Judging Morris with respect to Morris

Obviously I have to get the obligatory super twin reference out of the way before I can get to the substantive portion of the review. So did we draft the lesser brother, or did we trade for the lesser brother? That has been a recurring theme of late... but what happens when they're both the lesser brother?

Morrises_medium

The thing that jumps out to me is the eFG%. Markieff's paltry .442 eFG% ranks him near the bottom of the barrel (80th) among power forwards. While Marcus isn't exactly lighting the world on fire, his rank of 37th among power forwards is by no means deplorable for a second year player. Not a power forward you say? Among small forwards Marcus ranks 54th. Less effective with respect to his peers, but still in the top 60.

Markieff edges his brother out in several other categories, but the chasmic disparity in scoring efficiency gives Marcus a very slight overall edge. Coincidentally Unsurprisingly, the twins are almost identically bad.

Grade: C+

Judging Morris with respect to his trade

But how bad, and is their hope for growth in Phoenix's fertile soil? It's not adumbrating favorably at this point...

Marcus_2_medium

Starting with his fourth game after the trade to Phoenix, Morris had a 6 game stretch where he shot 52% (29-56) from the field and 53% (9-17) from three point range while averaging 12.7 points per game. Things were going swimmingly. During this period Marcus played between 23-28 minutes in each game. Six straight games with 20+ minutes. The optimism fostered by this stretch was annulled, however, as after that point he played over 20 minutes just three times in the final 18 games...

In fact, Marcus went through a stretch of 10 games from 3/18 - 4/7 where he had four DNP-CD's and only played double digit minutes twice. Murmurs of disciplinary actions levied by fledgling head coach Lindsey Hunter abounded, though I never heard of concrete specifics on Marcus's transgressions. The reasons I was given via hearsay were insubordination, a sense of entitlement and/or lack of effort.

Taking all that under consideration, though, it is quite obvious that Marcus struggled to find his niche in Phoenix's changing culture. Did the Suns get swindled out of their second round pick? What was the underlying reason that the Rockets gave up on Morris for the #34 selection in this year's draft? Were the issues that sabotaged Marcus's play in Phoenix already a concern beforehand? Was the regression actually predictable, or did Marcus just step into a maelstrom of suck and get drug under like others on the team?

Grade: D (benefit of the doubt for some of the Suns' culture change sabotage)

Judging Morris with respect to his improvement

Next year could be a good litmus test. The Rockets version of Morris makes him a serviceable backup. The Phoenix version of Morris makes him a fringe NBA player. Will the real Marcus please stand up?

Marcus_medium

Because if the real Marcus was the one in Houston and the regression at the end of last season is correctable, the 2013-14 season could be a paradigm shift for the young man The 2011-12 data has a very small sample size, so that may detract significantly from the analysis, but Morris showed significant improvement nearly across the board.

Minor improvements on these overall numbers would be enough to turn Morris from the liability he was for most of the time in Phoenix this last season into an asset. Hell, just a return to his 2012-13 Houston numbers would make him a top eight player on the Suns' roster.

Grade: C+

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Overall Grade: C-

Marcus Morris showed me enough in his time with the Rockets, and his early time in Phoenix, to suggest that he has at least the capability to be a serviceable backup. When the Suns traded a second round pick for a (low) lottery talent I applauded the move. Although it hasn't been a spectacular success so far, I think there is still some potential it could work out.

20120628_jel_sl8_166

Today, the Phoenix Suns find themselves in nearly uncharted territory for this proud franchise. The Suns have only picked 7th or lower (the range we fall in this year) a total of seven times since the franchise began in 1968. So what can the Suns realistically expect to happen being in the fourth slot? Here is a brief history of what has happened to the other teams in that position prior to the lottery selection over the past 29 years:

  • The number FOUR pre-lottery slotted team has retained its position twice, last in 2004 (Charlotte).
  • Has moved up to the 1st overall pick three times, last in 2012 (New Orleans).
  • Has moved up to the 2nd overall pick two times, last in 2000 (Vancouver).
  • Has moved up to the 3rd overall pick five times, last in 2009 (Oklahoma City).
  • Has moved down to the 5th overall pick eight times, last in 2008 (Memphis).
  • Has moved down to the 6th overall pick eight times, last in 2011 (Washington).
  • Has moved down to the 7th overall pick once in 1993 (Sacramento).

*Chart taken from warriors.com

Now, lets compare this with the actual lottery odds for each pick:

Nba_draft_odds_medium

*Table taken from Wikipedia

This shows that the Suns who are currently slotted in the 4th position of the lottery have a 11.9% chance of winning the first pick, and only a 9.9% chance of staying put in the 4th spot. In fact, the odds of moving up to the 2nd (12.6%) or 3rd (13.3%) spots are both higher than our odds of drafting 4th overall as well.

So that's good news...kind of.

However, the bad news is the Suns have the highest odds of moving down to the 5th pick, at 35%. Not only that, but the odds of moving down to the 6th pick (16%) are also higher than their chances of landing either of the first three picks.

In fact, if you add up the Suns' odds of moving up into the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd spot, you get total combined odds of nearly 38%. If you factor in the possibility of staying put at 4th (9.9%), it brings the total odds to around 48%. But, the odds of moving down to either the 5th, 6th, or 7th spot add up to around 52%.

So basically there is a better chance that the Suns end up with a later pick than an earlier pick, with the smart money on the 5th spot.

But don't despair. The New Orleans Hornets struck gold with the 4th lottery slot just last year, winning the first pick which they used to draft Anthony Davis.

Maybe lightning can strike twice in a row?

We won't know for sure until May 21st.

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