Morris Closes 'Rookie' Season In Style
When Suns power forward Markieff Morris walked to the van after the Suns’ intra-squad scrimmage Saturday, he threw the his Disney Princess backpack over his shoulder and marched out of UC San Diego’s RIMAC Arena with chest held high.
Although Morris is entering his second year, he’s technically still a rookie to the other Suns players and staff members because his first year took place during the 2011-12 shortened 66-game season. So the Suns’ vets have the pleasure of torturing Morris for just a little longer.
Like Suns rookie Kendall Marshall, who was rocking a Justin Bieber backpack instead, the Suns players continue to prank the 6-9 Morris.
But that’s cool with the second-year man. He carries himself as if the joke is on them.
Because it just might be.
Although the Suns are just one practice removed from training camp, Morris is oozing confidence in everything that he does. Throughout camp, Morris looked amongst the most game-ready and comfortable of his teammates in Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry’s new offensive system.
“In the summertime, I worked on offensive and defensive stuff and I watched a lot of film of my game last year and my flaws,” Morris said. “So I think I became a smarter player.”
In the intra-squad scrimmage Saturday, Morris’ 23 points led Team White and only trailed Jared Dudley’s 33 points for game-high honors. The former Jayhawk demonstrated eagle-eyed accuracy from the perimeter, as well as some new creative one-on-one moves in his repertoire.
Last year, Morris left the impression that he believed that he was NBA player. Now he knows that he is one.
During the 2011-12 season, Morris averaged 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds a night. That was good enough to rank eighth and fourth on the team, respectively.
But as Gentry noted, there was a reason for that. Due to the collective bargaining negotiations last summer and fall, the first time Morris played against NBA competition was the first day of training camp last season.
Now, with a season and a full summer under his belt, Morris is finally up to speed.
“He didn’t have the luxury of going through a summer league where you play seven or eight games, going to the camp they have for the NBA guys and spending the summer here,” Gentry said of Morris’ rookie season. “He basically had two exhibition games and started playing in the NBA. But this summer he really improved his game overall.”
Morris has even made strides with the media. After an interview with a Suns.com staffer that shall remain nameless, Morris inquired, “Aren’t I better this year?”
“Yeah, your game is looking a lot more polished,” the staffer responded.
“Nah, I meant with my interviews,” he replied. Apparently Morris underwent league-promoted training to be more media-savvy.
“I paid attention in that,” Morris added.
If he continues to play like he has this preseason, he will need that training with all of the attention he will receive.
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