Checking in With… Anthony Morrow
In the NBA, shooting is all about rhythm and comfort. So, when players have five months between the end of the season and the start of training camp, it’s a process to stay sharp. For Thunder guard Anthony Morrow, it was a lofty goal of making 80,000 jump shots this summer.
In early July, Morrow was in Orlando to help support the Thunder’s Summer League squad, but even though the number was high, couldn’t give an exact update on his mid-summer shot total.
“I lost count,” Morrow said, with a sigh and a half smile. “It was hard to keep up with, but it’s been a lot. I’m sure I have a lot more left. I’ve just been working out four or five days a week. I’ve been getting up a lot of shots and working on my body as well with flexibility. It’s something I want to stay on top of.”
Morrow's workouts all summer have included some help from Thunder staff, teammates and new head coach Billy Donovan. By working out at the INTEGRIS Thunder Development Center and across the country by himself and with teammates, Morrow has had the chance to stay in peak shape and maintain a shooting flow. As for the new man who will be at the center of team huddles, the Thunder sharpshooter has been impressed by Donovan’s focus and work ethic.
Anthony Morrow on joining Durant and Waiters in Orlando to support the summer team: "We're like a family." pic.twitter.com/hxQj2wvhun
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) July 6, 2015
“He’s just a basketball head,” Morrow explained. “He’s a basketball junkie. That’s something I can really relate too. Just over there watching the games, every single play he’s locked in. He’s thinking about something, timing or something. That’s the kind of staff we have as well.”
Another member of the Thunder staff Morrow has enjoyed having on hand is Monty Williams, his former head coach in New Orleans. The rest of the Thunder assistant coaching staff includes Mo Cheeks, Mark Bryant, Anthony Grant and Darko Rajakovic. The eight-year veteran is excited about having Williams, and his defensive-mindedness, on board.
“I just know him personally as a great off the court guy,” Morrow said. “We could really use what he brings on and off the court.”
“He helped me personally playing there with the defensive principles,” Morrow continued. “This team, we’re long and athletic. With his principles of loading and helping each other off the dribble, and we have shot blockers behind us, along with our athletic ability, I think we can take an even bigger jump defensively this year hopefully.”
All of those coaches had the chance to get experience working together down in Orlando, getting into a competitive environment with Thunder players like Mitch McGary and Cameron Payne, in addition to former Oklahoma City Blue players and other prospects. Entering his second season as a professional, McGary showed strides during the second half of the season and his work this offseason has stood out to Morrow.
“I’m proud of him. He’s just a great energy guy,” Morrow said. “His spirit is great for our team in general. On the court, he looks great. He’s running the floor, he’s defending and giving great effort defensively. That’s something we’ll continue to feed off of.”
As for the Thunder’s first-round draft selection this past June, Payne, Morrow didn’t get a chance to see him play in Orlando. The quick, cerebral point guard was recovering from a hand injury, but Morrow has been able to watch film on him and spend time with him in the gym this summer.
“I just like his confidence. He has tremendous swagger and ability,” Morrow explained. “He’s left-handed and has good size for a point guard. I think he has a really bright future. I’m looking forward to getting into the gym with him.”
It remains to be seen what roles McGary and Payne will end up having this season and how they would be incorporated in Donovan’s system, but Morrow can’t wait to get back on the hardwood with a fully healthy Thunder roster. For a floor spacer like him, playing with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka will only open up room to knock down a jumper, like the thousands he’s made already this summer.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Morrow beamed. “In the little time we’ve spent on the court actually together, I see how much attention he and Russ get. Also with Dion out there, there are a lot of guys who demand a lot of attention. I want to continue to feed off and play off those guys and play off of them as much as I can to get open and knock down shots.”