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.