For the seeming bargain of a second-round pick, the Phoenix Suns acquired the most improved power forward in the league on NBA Trade Deadline Eve. The subsequent positional redundancy could portend something more interesting moving forward.
According to hoopsstats.com, Marcus Morris checks in as the most improved power forward in the NBA this year. Despite this improvement in his second season with the Houston Rockets, the Suns were able to acquire the twin brother of Phoenix forward Markieff Morris for the aforementioned second-round pick.
The redundancy is apparent regardless of where any of the team’s current so-called “hybrid” forwards are deployed. Marcus Morris was generally considered the more talented of the twins when they left Kansas for the 2011 NBA Draft, and he was picked by the Rockets with the 14th selection. Markieff, considered the more low-post-oriented of the two, had gone to the Suns one pick earlier.
While Marcus bounced between Houston and the D-League as a rookie, Markieff had a relatively hot post-lockout start in Phoenix, but he fizzled in efficiency – at both ends of the floor – as the season progressed.
Extremely close, it is being presumed that reuniting the twins will do performance wonders for both.
Let the tweeting begin:
“It’s a blessing to be back with my brother,” Marcus tweeted. “Shocked, but blessed.”
And, a few hours before Wednesday game against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Markieff tweeted: “Can’t explain this feeling!!!”
Suns followers might be challenged to explain just how this tangle of small and power forwards will be deployed by interim head coach Lindsey Hunter.
The Suns’ frontcourt roll call includes Jared Dudley, P.J. Tucker and Wesley Johnson as card-carrying small forwards. Johnson, it should be noted, gave the Suns his best game of the season during Tuesday’s triumph in Portland.
Dudley, who often plays a shooting guard on TV, has a shooting touch, a level of professionalism and a modest contract that had him in trade-rumor play leading up to the deadline.
Tucker, a defensive ace who has guarded anyone who doesn’t have to duck more than 20 percent of his frame through doorways, was included in a rumored trade involving teammate Marcin Gortat and the Oklahoma City Thunder, but both stayed put.
Marcus Morris, whose rookie issues can be traced to an inability to make a serious go of it at small forward, has played well working mostly as a four man this season. After averaging just 2.4 points in 7.4 minutes over a measly 17-game sample last season, Marcus is up to 8.6 points in 21.4 minutes this season.
With the Suns, he joins either the small forwards just listed or a power forward roster that includes brother Markieff, starter Luis Scola and swing forward Michael Beasley (as well as potentially Channing Frye, who remains out with a heart ailment but hopes to return next season).
Locking players into specific positions can be recklessly simplistic, but reality tells us the Suns have one player – Shannon Brown – capable of performing most basic functions of a shooting guard and more than half of their roster spread across both forward positions.
This could suggest even more roster imbalance than we’ve seen the last couple of seasons (that’s not easy to accomplish), at least in the short term, or it could suggest that the Suns have something else planned in the offseason, although trying to determine what that would be would only yield speculation.
The Suns at least managed to balance their draft-pick situation Thursday, garnering a 2014 second-round pick from the Raptors for point guard Sebastian Telfair to make up for the 2013 one they surrendered to bring the Morris twins together.