Marcus Morris draft profile

May 26th, 2011 by John Krolik

Marcus Morris is a force with the ball in his hands.

Few pairs of post players in college basketball matched Kansas’ Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff, in production this year. The duo averaged more than 30 points and 15 rebounds per game while shooting nearly 60% from the field. Marcus, standing just under 6’9” in shoes and weighing 230 pounds, was the slightly smaller but slightly more productive of the two. He’s also generally considered the better NBA prospect, though both could hear their names called in the lottery. Today, we’ll examine the potential impact the junior would have on the Cavs.

Strengths

Morris has a complete, NBA-ready offensive game. He possesses both a smooth jumper with range out to college 3 (shot 34% this year) and a refined back-to-the-basket game. In the post, he uses his body well to clear space for himself and uses spin moves, fadeaways and pivots to generate clear looks at the basket from in and around the paint. After he catches the ball when fronted or gets a rebound in traffic, he is highly aware of secondary defenders and maneuvers around them to score. On the perimeter, he uses a jab step to clear space for his jumper and has very good ball-handling skills, though he doesn’t showcase them often.

Efficiency plays a huge role in Morris’ value as a prospect. He averaged a sterling 1.23 points per possession on 63% true shooting. He shows excellent discipline playing within the offense, evidenced by his surprisingly low usage rate (20%). In the game tape I watched to prepare this scouting report, Morris didn’t take a single bad shot.

Morris is tough and physical in the rebounding and defense departments. He shows a willingness to bang in the post and gives good effort most of the time on defense. He hedges out on pick and rolls well and gets low when opposing ball handlers are in front of him. He fights hard for position at both ends of the floor.

Morris answered a big concern at the combine, where he measured out with a 6’10” wingspan. Nothing great, but he had previously measured with a shorter wingspan than height. He also showed that he’s a fluid athlete, with a decent standing vertical of 29” and a ¾ court spring of 3.15s, among the top marks for power forwards. Running the floor won’t be a concern for Morris at the next level.

Weaknesses

Though he isn’t a stiff by any means, Morris doesn’t have explosive athleticism and leaping ability. He’s a force on the offensive glass, but grabbed just 5 defensive rebounds per game this year, good for a mere 20% of his team’s defensive boards. He also averaged a paltry 0.6 blocks per game. At the college level, playing against mostly inferior athletes, that’s a startlingly low number.

Help defense is not one of Morris’ strengths. When one of his teammates gets beat on the perimeter, Morris can be a little slow to rotate over. Instead of aggressively contesting the opponent’s shot, he often just puts his hands the air and then turns to rebound.

Morris’ free-throw shooting also needs work. He made just 69% of his attempts this season, a little disappointing considering he shows solid form.

Finally, as a 21-year-old junior, Morris has limited upside compared to other prospects in this draft.

How he fits with the Cavs

I actually think Morris is a better prospect than many are giving him credit for. He shows few weaknesses on the offensive side of the ball, where the only real question is how he will adjust to facing NBA athletes, as his measurements and athleticism are only average for NBA power forwards. The fact that he already shows comfort and discipline playing within a role and a system despite being the best player on his college team is also a major plus.

The problem with regard to the Cavs is that they already have a developing young power forward in J.J. Hickson who is only a year older than Morris and has shown some ability.

Morris, who is currently projected to go in the mid-to-late lottery, would also be a reach at #4. As with Burks, the Cavs could consider trading down to draft him. But in a draft this mediocre, and with a team this bad, the Cavs should definitely be thinking long-term. Morris is a low-risk pick who should be a solid NBA rotation player right away, but Cleveland is probably better off swinging for the fences with a higher-risk pick.

Pass it around: