Anthony Morrow off to red-hot start with Pelicans
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
After carving out a spot in the NBA as an undrafted Golden State rookie in 2008-09, it was understandable that Anthony Morrow would sometimes take a peek at the league’s three-point shooting leaders. Morrow admits to getting a kick out of seeing “Anthony Morrow, Golden State” near the top of the list, right next to or even above “Ray Allen, Boston,” one of the greatest perimeter shooters in basketball history.
Now a sixth-year veteran, the 28-year-old Morrow doesn’t check the stats like he once did, but if he were to scan NBA.com these days, he’d like what he sees. Entering the weekend and Saturday’s New Orleans home game vs. Philadelphia, Morrow is leading the league in three-point percentage (60.0), opening 2013-14 by making 15 of his 25 attempts.
It’d be tempting to proclaim that the Charlotte native is off to the best start of his NBA career, but the truth is, Morrow actually was just as hot from the perimeter early in his Warriors debut campaign. He became the first rookie in history to lead the NBA in three-point percentage (46.7) in 2008-09, including pouring in 37 points in his first pro start. He began that ’08-09 season 14-for-23 (60.9 percent) from three-point range en route to winning the league’s individual title.
Morrow has made a similarly excellent first impression in the Crescent City, one of the bright spots of the Pelicans’ disappointing 3-6 start. The Georgia Tech product regularly provides a boost off the bench for New Orleans, making at least half of his three-point attempts in seven of the nine games.
“My teammates have really been doing a great job of finding me, whether I’m playing with the second-unit guys or the starters,” Morrow said of his accurate start. “I’ve just been trying to run the floor and get to open spots. Playing with (Anthony Davis), he’s the best running big man I’ve ever played with on any level. I find myself wide open. I’ve been taking good shots.
“We’ve got a bunch of unselfish guys, and a lot of guys who can get to the rim and finish, but who also are willing passers. Like with Tyreke (Evans), I don’t think he gets enough credit for how well he can pass.”
Morrow has shot the ball so well early that Pelicans Coach Monty Williams has begun trying to incorporate him even more into the offenset.
“When he’s open, you’ve got to get him the ball,” Williams said. “He can just flat-out shoot the ball. He’s been really good for us. We’ve got to find ways to get (Morrow) the ball. I’m trying to draw up plays for him out of timeouts. In the meat of the game, I think we’ve got to look for him more, as long as it’s within the system.”
Morrow realizes that his scoring chances and playing time will not always be plentiful on a Pelicans team with numerous backcourt options, but he’s focused on capitalizing when he’s called upon by Williams.
“In the Phoenix game I got 11 or 12 shots,” Morrow said of his 16-point game vs. the Suns on Sunday, “but it’s not always going to be like that. When the opportunity comes, you’ve got to grasp it. I know my minutes probably will be the most inconsistent of any guy on the team, because it’s based on whoever has got it going (offensively). I’m glad to come off the bench and be productive whenever I can.”
Although he’s not preoccupied by statistics or tracking where he ranks in comparison to some of the NBA’s elite shooters, Morrow is an avid basketball watcher who subscribes to NBA League Pass and pays particular attention to long-distance marksmen like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kyle Korver. He says he’d be thrilled to win a second single-season percentage championship.
“Of course I would,” a smiling Morrow said when asked about repeating the feat. “But I’m not caught up in it. I used to (check the shooting leaders) when I was younger, because it was like, ‘Oh man, I can’t believe I’m seeing (the name) Ray Allen next to Anthony Morrow.’ But not now. Now it’s all about being able to come in and play my role. It’s about taking my craft seriously, coming in the gym to work before and after practice. I’ve taken pride in that since I was in high school. I take pride in it and I really love it.”