Darius Morris playing well as of late

Submitted by kehnonymous on November 19th, 2012 at 5:47 PM

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.

http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2012/11/19/the-growth-of-darius-morris/

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.

Comments

jsquigg

November 19th, 2012 at 5:59 PM ^

I just don't see him getting much better than being a reserve point guard.  I wish him the best, but once Nash comes back I think it's Nash and Blake getting the PT.

WolvinLA2

November 19th, 2012 at 6:36 PM ^

I agree with both points, for the most part.  However, being a solid back-up PG for your career is not the end of the world (and will net him a couple million bucks a year for a half dozen or more years. 

That said, let's assume he is behind Nash and Blake.  Before this season ends, Blake will be 33 and Nash will be 74 (just kidding, but still, 39), and both have proven not so durable.  The Lakers have almost no draft picks and are way over the salary cap, so Morris is a real asset.  If they resign Dwight, they'll need to give him a solid raise, so they might need to get rid of Duhon and Blake.  I think Morris's job is pretty safe for the time being.

Marley Nowell

November 19th, 2012 at 6:00 PM ^

I wonder how D'Antoni coming in is going to affect things.  He likes teams that can run and Darius seems better equiped to do that than anyone else they have at PG while Nash is out.  If he can somehow maintain a decent 3P% he could really excel in that system.

615Wolverine

November 19th, 2012 at 6:09 PM ^

Dantoni stated he plans on using Morris in his rotation over at lakernation.com

I think Darius will be a Laker for a long time. I love when my favorite college team players get drafted by my fav pros team. He scored a career high 12 points last night after Dantoni gave him the start over Chris Duhon.

Mr. Yost

November 19th, 2012 at 6:39 PM ^

D'antoni was the best thing to happen to Darius Morris since he got drafted. It's the PERFECT system for him. I look for him to become a solid backup point guard in that system.

WolvinLA2

November 19th, 2012 at 6:43 PM ^

Well, the best this that happened to him was the Lakers getting rid of their draft picks to sign a 38 year old PG and spending all of their salary cap on every position but PG.  So they have an old PG, no draft picks to get one for cheap and no cap space to sign one. 

sdogg1m

November 19th, 2012 at 6:46 PM ^

I think the college experience and more tutelage under Beilein would have made him a better NBA player. Can't blame him though for being lured in by the millions of dollars that awaited him.

kehnonymous

November 19th, 2012 at 10:12 PM ^

Ah I'd forgot about Chris Duhon - his bad contract was part of the pound of flesh we gave up to get Dwight Howard.  He had some good success with the Knicks and D'Antoni so I'd expect him to get some PT - it's a good sign that Morris got the nod over him.