semi-OT, perhaps, but I figured we could use a breather from dissecting Maryland and Rutgers.
So... yeah, I know – most people hate the Lakers and if I didn’t grow up in L.A., I might’ve as well. But all of us love Darius Morris and after a lost rookie season and a dispiriting 1-4(12?) start to the season, it looks like he and the team may have started turning the corner.
Here’s a good read from Forum Blue and Gold – for other Laker fans reading, this is the blog I spend the 2ndmost time at.
Small sample size caveats are in full effect here. But, the preliminary results have been very encouraging and I think it likely that the light finally came on for him. Over the last eight games, Morris has averaged 6.4 points, 2.9 assists and shooting around 44% from the 3-point line. Three of those games, however, presumably saw his numbers weighed down by Mike Brown’s head-scratchingly awful rotations.
I was initially and regrettfully bearish on Morris' game last season but I've liked what I've seen thus far. Last night he ran what seemed like the first successful Laker fast break in over 22 years when he took a feed, streaked downcourt and hit Dwight Howard with a nifty over-the-shoulder pass for a dunk. I've really liked his activity on defense and he's become pretty good at leveraging his size to play good ball-denial D and stifle penetration. He still gets lost on screens but hustles to recover when that happens. Yes, he still hasn't played Westbrook or Rondo, but I thought he held his own against Tony Parker in a close loss to S.A.
On offense, he's not dribbling around in infinite circles like last season. I do not think his 44% 3P% is sustainable, but stranger things have happened to young players schooled by Kobe. His decision making is average but he's not mind-numbingly passive like Steve Blake. He'll attack the basket - I haven't seen the same ability to finish that he showed in college, but it gives the defense something else to account for and he has Howard and Hill to clean up the mess.
In a few weeks, the Lakers have a decision to make when Steve Blake (the primary backup PG) gets healthy. Michigan bias aside, if a rookie starts looking great being coached by Not Mike Brown you have to see what you get out of a veteran PG who's a historically better shooter. I do think Morris has a better ceiling and the quickness, athleticism, aggressiveness and size he gives you should prove to be a better fit for the team going forward. (Nash is obviously the starter when he returns)
The Lakers are going to be on your TV this season whether you like it or not. Here's hoping that a Michigan Man uses the bright lights of Tinseltown to springboard his own nascent NBA career.