Markieff Morris Gets Some Work In Before Lockout

The Phoenix Suns selected Markieff Morris with the 13th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

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Markieff Morris Gets First Chance To Play For Suns; Gortat Report From Dream Camp

The Phoenix Suns held a free agent mini-camp this week to get a look at a bunch of players who weren't drafted and one, Sean Williams, who is trying to get back in the league. It was also an opportunity for the Suns' coaching staff to get another look at 13th overall pick Markieff Morris in a competitive environment so they could give him an offseason workout plan. With a lockout likely, that plan might have to hold him for a long time.

Morris was excited to have the chance and said he's "still kind of dreaming" when he thinks about being drafted. Asked what he's learned about how the Suns play, he said,  "That we play super fast."

Markieff will leave Phoenix in the next few days and head to Los Angeles where he will work out with former NBA player Pooh Richardson.  His assignment is to get stronger, quicker and to get his body right. He's been given playbooks and other material to study. 

Morris said his goal for his rookie season is going to be to focus on defense, "I want to be a stopper on this team."

Coach Alvin Gentry was impressed with Morris but also sent a warning to fans.

"He's a very intelligent player and I think he's a competitive guy. He understands the game and angles and rotations and things like that. It's going to take time, but he's going to be a very good player.

"It's going to be a process. I don't want anyone to think that he's going to come in and ride in on a white horse and be the savior but he's a very, very good piece to be adding to our team."

Other Suns Notes:

Gentry reported that they are close to a decision on a new assistant "defensive coordinator" coach and should have a decision before the middle of next week.

Marcin Gorat and Garret Siler completed a week in Houston working out with legendary big man, Hakeem Olajuwon. They worked over three hours per day on the court for five days and according to Gentry, had nothing but positive things to say. "They feel like it was one of the best things that ever happened to them in basketball"


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NBA Draft Grades: Jimmer Comes West, Klay Thompson A Warrior, Lakers Do Stuff

The Phoenix Suns finished second in the NBA's Pacific Division, but it's pretty clear that position is in jeopardy. Young talented teams like the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers are (slowly) starting to parlay their years of misery into some pretty interesting rosters while the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers are complete mysteries. We look at the results and grades from the 2011 NBA Draft of the the Suns' division foes which now includes the newest King, Jimmer Fredette.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are a team going either a) no where b) down fast c) right back to the top. There's really no telling what they will do with Mike Brown taking over Phil Jackson's sideline throne. One thing we can say for sure, the 2011 NBA Draft isn't going to make much of an impact for them.

The Lakers had four second picks but traded one and with the 56th pick took a guy (Ater Majok) who will never play in the NBA. They did grab a couple of guards with their better picks that may or may not ever see the Staples Center floor outside of pregame ball boy duties.

The Lakers took point guard Darius Morris (41) and shooting guard Andrew Goudelock (46). You know how it goes with second round picks. Sometimes you get Gilbert Arenas and sometimes you get...Gilbert Arenas.

Grades for the Lakers seem to range in the C to B area. We give them a W for whatever.

Golden State Warriors 

The Warriors used the 11th pick to take Washington State shooting guard, Klay Thompson. Fans of Pac-10 basketball know what kind of shooter this guy is and also know that he's not much of defender. Ergo, he's a perfect fit for the Warriors playing the exact same role Dorell Wright played. 

In the second round the Warriors picked wunderkind turned disaster, power forward Jeremy Tyler (39). Using the Suns' pick that was traded to Chicago in the Hakim Warrick deal before being shipped to Warriors, point guard Charles Jenkins (44). 

The Warriors earned a solid B from Chad Ford and a D+ from Tom Ziller. I'm with Tom, D+ 

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers had the first round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft but traded it away as a bribe to the Cavs to dump Baron Davis. That earns them an A+ in my book.

Oh, they also took Trey Thompkins (37), Travis Leslie (47) but who really cares.

Sacramento Jimmer Kings

Jimmer Fredette to the Kings with the 10th pick earns them an immediate A. No questions asked. This is a scary team with a ton of talent. If they can figure it out and get on the same page and get a bit of the Jimmer magic, they will win 50 games the next time the NBA has a full 82-game schedule.

That the Kings insanely agreed to take back the horrible contract of John Salmons as the price of moving down three spots in the draft and moving Beno Udrih earns them an F. Overall grade, AF.

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Jimmer Fredette of BYU received the 2011 Naismith Trophy Presented by AT&T at the NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Program. He was always destined to be a King. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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NBA Draft Grades: Phoenix Suns Rate Solid 'B'

The Phoenix Suns new front office triumvirate of Lon Babby, Lance Blanks and John Treloar made the safe choice with the 13th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. It was their first draft running the Suns and they absolutely couldn't afford a bust so you can understand why they went with a safe, if not exciting, choice who will likely be an NBA role player for many years but is almost certainly never going to develop All-Star potential.

The general reaction from the fans and media seems to be a solid, OK. On the flip side, there's not much else they could have done to impress at that point and most importantly, their job isn't to impress the likes of us. Their job is to make the team better and the only grade that matters is the wins and losses that come on the court.

In the meantime, we play this premature game of grading draft picks because like to pretend we know better what a team should do than the team itself. Of course, teams have been wrong so many times that they've opened the door for plenty of criticism.

The Morris pick makes a lot of sense assuming he can continue shooting from mid- to long-range, will continue to be a decent rebounder and defender, and will continue to have at least a decent low post game. His time at Kansas was overshadowed by both his brother Marcus and Cole Aldrich who he shared time with his first two years. He played under 17 minutes per game his first two years and 24 minutes his junior year. His brother Marcus, drafted 15 by Houston, played 28 minutes per game last season.

When grading a team's draft pick, we really need to look at other available options.

Many people think the Suns should have taken small forward Kawhi Leonard who impressed people with his large hands and defense, but adding another wing player certainly didn't make sense, especially for a guy like Leonard who's offensive game is very much a question mark.

Iman Shumpert would have been even more of a stretch in the eyes of most observers. His questionable point guard skills and unimpressive record at Georgia Tech turned people off. But his defense, transition scoring and incredible athleticism gave him a lot of upside. Shumpert was the high-risk, high-reward pick and this was not the time for the Suns to be making that kind of choice.

Overall Suns grade: B

Here's a few other draft grades for the Suns.

NBA Draft Grades 2011: Suns Confuse Markieff Morris' Family, Get Tougher - SBNation.com

Morris immediately becomes Phoenix's toughest power forward. I'm really going out on a ledge here, considering that Hakim Warrick and Channing Frye are the competition. But still. The Suns now have two brawlers in the frontcourt (Morris, Marcin Gortat), and the team's famously bad rebounding should improve, provided that Alvin Gentry gives Morris lots of early minutes.

2011 NBA draft results: Draft grades - ESPN

The Suns decided they needed size and another defensive presence, and to get those qualities, they may have reached just a bit for Morris here. A year ago, scouts would've laughed at the suggestion that Markieff would go ahead of twin brother Marcus. But after a stellar junior season, he leapt ahead on some draft boards. Morris is a solid rebounder and defender and he's tough. He can also shoot the ball, a big bonus in Alvin Gentry's system. 

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Markieff Morris Considers Himself A Philly Tough Guy; Effective Low Post Scorer

Newest Phoenix Suns forward, Markieff Morris, made his first appearance in front of the local media via conference call. He answered a few questions about his brother and previous aspirations to be a football wide receiver before his mother told him he was too tall and had to play basketball.

Like most new players coming to the Suns, Morris talked about the opportunity to play with Steve Nash.

"Just watching Steve Nash growing up and what he did with Amare (Stoudemire). Playing with a veteran point guard like him, he makes his big men good."

Morris was hailed by Suns' GM Lance Blanks for his toughness. The 13th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft explained where that toughness comes from, "My toughness comes from being from Philly. Philly guys have a different toughness from anybody you ever met and that's what I hang my hat on. I'm ready to battle with anybody."

Morris scored 34 percent of his points in post-ups according to Synergy Sports Tech. He was rated "Excellent" and converted just over 50 percent of his shots. The following chart illustrates where he is most effective in left, low block.

Markieff_morris_synergy_post_game_chart_2_medium

Additional Morris Quotes:

"Being that guy down in the trenches being able to do anything for the team. I've always been that guy. Being able to play with Steve (Nash) on pick and rolls and just trying to soak in all that those veteran things they got there with Steve and Grant (Hill), trying to be a professional and being the best player I can be for the team."

"Didn't really mean too much going ahead of my brother but when I heard the Suns picking me, many I wanted to cry. It's the play I've always wanted to be. It just felt so good."

"A lot of guys say I don't have an upside but we're going to see. I'm ready to put the work in and be the best possible."

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Phoenix Suns Draft: Blanks Sees Markieff Morris Pick As Chance To Lay Imprint On Team

Phoenix Suns General Manager Lance Blanks rushed down from the Suns war room to address the media just minutes after his team's pick of Markieff Morris with the 13th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft was announced. He expressed his excitement at getting Markieff Morris and sees him as a tough player who can impact the team immediately. Blanks also sees the pick as a chance to leave his mark on the team.

"It's extremely important to get a player like Markieff. We made trades during the season and now this is our first draft. This gives us an opportunity to lay our imprint on this organization and on this team. This is our first draft choice and our first opportunity through the draft to do that," Blanks said.

Asked about the choice of Markieff over his twin brother Marcus, Blanks was a bit unclear in his response, "I think the draft's a funny thing. You never know why teams do what they do...As to why Markieff over Marcus, who knows."

Other Blanks comments:

"We stayed true to our process. We're very process-driven...His name surfaced as a possibility as we looked at the numbers...It all made sense based on where we had him on the board."

"I love his intangibles. He's tough. We have a team that is resilient but he offers us a mental and physical toughness that's almost impossible to quantify with numbers."

"I certainly hope he can come in. I think he can come in and impact the roster. That will be up to coach Gentry and his staff in terms of his minutes. Lon (Babby), John Treloar, and myself will be pushing from the outside to try and get him on the floor as soon as possible."

For more reaction on the Phoenix Suns 2011 NBA Draft pick, visit Bright Side of the Sun.

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