Markieff Morris: Most Valuable Reserve

Trust me; I know what you’re thinking.

Wow, it’s shocking that someone who writes for the Phoenix Suns’ official website is endorsing a Suns player for a postseason award.

I’m not going to completely disagree with you, but I do think a compelling case could be made that Markieff Morris is (at the very least) a leader for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.

The third year forward is averaging career highs in points (13.8), rebounds (5.9), assists (1.7), minutes (26:09), field goal percentage (48.8), field goals made (5.1) and free throw percentage (78.3). He has also scored in double-digits in 32 of his last 35 games off the bench and tallied his ninth double-double of season with 16 points and 14 rebounds at Toronto on March 16. It’s the most in a stretch that long by a Sun since Leandro Barbosa in 2006-07 (35 of 37).

Perhaps more impressive, Morris has reached or surpassed his career-high entering the season (23 points) 12 times this season (most recent, 25, at Minnesota on March 23).

For comparison’s sake, Taj Gibson of the Chicago Bulls has been widely considered to be a leader in the Sixth Man of the Year race – and rightfully so.

Even still, one could make an argument that Morris has been equally if not more productive.

Morris is averaging more points (13.8 – 13.4), more assists (1.7 – 1.1), a better +/- (+1.4 – +1.1), a better free throw percentage (78.3 – 74.3), a better field goal percentage (48.8 – 48.2) and all while doing so in fewer minutes per game (26.2 – 28.8) in the Suns’ 43 wins to the Bulls’ 40.

Additionally, Morris has posted several games that could be considered historic in Suns history.

On March 23 in Minnesota, Markieff Morris posted 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting in the Suns’ come-from-behind win. The performance marked his 6th game this season shooting at least 75 percent from the field (minimum of 10 attempts), tied for second most in the NBA (Dwight Howard—9, Serge Ibaka—6). His six such games are the most in a season by a Suns player since Amar’e Stoudemire had seven games in 2009-10 making at least 75 percent of his attempts.

His best performance of the season, however, was on January 26 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in another comeback win.

Morris tallied 27 points and a season-high 15 rebounds off the bench to become the first player in the NBA since Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets on Nov. 21, 2002 to record at least 27 points and 15 rebounds in a game while coming off the bench.

His line was the first 27/15 by a Suns player since Amar’e Stoudemire on March 28, 2010, and he joins Stoudemire and Shawn Marion as the only Suns since 1998-99 to do so.

Ultimately, Morris’ season has been a tremendous success whether he wins the Sixth Man of the Year award or not.

For a team that many “experts” predicted would win less than 20 games and be fighting for a lottery pick, Morris’ production off the bench has been a huge catalyst in their 43 wins – already their most since 2009-10 with nine games to go.

For Suns fans, that is undoubtedly worthy of national recognition.