Markieff Morris is on fire as of late, and it doesn’t look like anyone is going to put him out anytime soon.
The (slightly) older Morris twin was even awarded the Western Conference player of the week award by the NBA. Morris is the first Suns player since Amar’e Stoudemire in 2008 to win that award. Markieff has been coming off the bench since veteran Channing Frye came back this season from his enlarged heart.
Markieff has been putting up numbers, filling up that stat sheet from a bench role, helping the Phoenix Suns to a 5-2 record, good for a share of the third-place slot in the Western Conference standings early into the season.
Markieff had a couple double-doubles last week, and was hitting a ridiculous percentage from the field. He is shooting 69 percent on the year and bumped up that to 75 percent or better the last few games to garner the honor of Western Conference player of the week. In those three games, he averaged just less than 25 points per game and pulled down an average of nine rebounds in those three matchups.
The increase in scoring output for Morris is encouraging, but the rebounding makes me more excited. Markieff had been much maligned for his low 4.7 boards per game, especially for a 6-10 power forward. Higher rebounding totals display his determination to hit the glass more and signifies an increase in intensity instead of settling just for mid-range jumpers, which is a promising sign for his future.
It’s mostly about shot selection and getting lucky with those low-percentage shots. Markieff used to take a lot of jumpers from the free-throw line extended and three-pointers from the top of the arc. He seemed a little shot-happy and threw it up even when guarded, resulting in a low shooting percentage.
This season is completely different. He is shooting less when closely-guarded, slightly less from lower percentage portions of the floor and he is getting into the lane, while getting physical down in the paint.
This all adds up to player of the week honors.
Even though Markieff is tearing it up on his bench role, he shouldn’t start in place of Channing Frye. Hornacek said he isn’t messing right now with the chemistry the bench squad has made, and he shouldn’t unless something specifically isn’t working.
Frye is a better fit to play with the starters because Plumlee is already the low-post threat, and Tucker also cuts and slashes near the hoop, so Phoenix needs someone to space the floor. That player should be Frye not Markieff. With the second unit, Markieff can be the number one option, and if he continues to play near this level, there won’t be much of a drop-off when he reserves come into the game. Additionally, having the Morrii (twins Markieff and Marcus) on the court together, can only result in good things for Phoenix.
That bodes well for the Suns going forward.
Markieff won’t play this well the rest of the season, his stats will fall back to earth, but the elevation of his game to borderline-starter for a playoff team is good, especially since the Suns can have that talent coming off the bench.