Morris Confident as His Game Grows

By Aaron Seidlitz, Suns.com
Posted: July 15, 2012

The Phoenix Suns didn’t have to wait long on Sunday to see a little bit of everything they were hoping to see out of second-year power forward Markieff Morris.

During the first 10-minute quarter of play Sunday at the Suns’ opening game of the 2012 NBA Las Vegas Summer League, Morris got the Suns off to a fast start and the lead with 10 points, three rebounds and a monster block.

He finished the game with a team-best 21 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots.

Morris’ effort was the leading reason why the Suns beat the New York Knicks 99-74 at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion.

“I told (Morris) that I was going to go to him a lot this year, especially in the post during the summer league," said Dan Majerle, the "Summer Suns" head coach. "He took it to heart and did a great job."

Morris credited the work he did in Phoenix thus far this offseason to his fast start.

One thing he believes this kind of performance is evident of is simply his growing confidence on the offensive side of the court.

“You know what, man, I just take my time and let the game come to me. I just think that I can get whatever I want, and if I can keep that confidence up then it will be good for my game,” Morris said.

There was no doubting that he was effective last season. In 63 games, the power forward found a way contribute with 7.4 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game while hitting 35 percent from 3-point distance in 20 minutes per game during his rookie season.

But the next step for Morris was to continue to work out regularly over the summer, come to summer league and develop the skills that he wasn’t able to work on quite as much with the lack of training and downtime a year ago.

Last season Morris didn’t participate in summer league due to the lockout. Then, a condensed regular season caused Morris’ practice time during the season to shrink.

What was evident from Sunday’s game was the second-year player may just be ready to fill a more complete role next season.

Over the course of the game against the Knicks, there was Morris filling the lane and finishing contested layups with his left hand. He was posting up regularly, and working on positioning on both ends of the court.

He blocked shots, rebounded the ball, cut back on fouls after the first quarter and, overall, found a variety of ways to score.

Then when the team went to his bread-and-butter, the pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop, Morris was ready and willing to participate in that, as well.

It all resulted in a solid 7-of-16 shooting from the field and 6-of-8 shooting from the free-throw line.

Marshall Has Some Competition

Before summer league games started, Majerle said a major goal was to get Morris and rookie point guard Kendall Marshall as many minutes as possible.

That couldn’t quite come to fruition on Sunday, with Marshall waiting until his contract was finalized before suiting up. He is expected to participate in Tuesday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But what the Suns learned in Marshall’s absence was that they have some talent in the backcourt for this summer league roster.

Diante Garrett started at the point and distributed the ball well, finishing the game with 10 assists to go with eight points and only two turnovers.

Then, off the bench, came spark plug Erving Walker – who most recently played for Billy Donovan at Florida.

Majerle referred to Walker as a “water bug,” because he jumps around the court with an effective amount of speed.

Majerle also said that Walker is hard to guard, later proving that by putting in 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting and 2-of-2 from 3.

The superb performance led to the head coach joking around with Marshall.

“I asked Kendall if he knew who Wally Pipp was. If not, you better Google him, so I’m sure he’s going to go Google him,” Majerle said.

If you don’t remember, Google will tell you that Pipp was the man famously replaced by Lou Gehrig due to an injury, only to never get his starting spot back.