Thursday, May 30, 2013

2012-2013 Lakers in Review #4: Darius Morris

Much like at Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness, Hack-a-Shaq will have end of the year reviews.

Same rules apply as grades are handed out according to pre-season expectations vs. actual production. 

Point Guard: Darius Morris

4.0 PPG, 1.6 APG, 1.2 RPG, 0.2 WS, .016 WS/48 on 38.8% shooting and 36.4% shooting from three point range. Grade: D+

2012-2013 in brief: A second round draft choice the year before, Morris was slated to be a prospect, learning from guards Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. Forced into playing time by a massive amount of injuries, Morris played bad offensively, but well defensively. 

2014 status: 1 year left on his contract, earning 962K with a team option for two seasons. 


At first glance, it looks like Darius Morris had an awful season, shooting under 40% and only averaging 1.6 assists per game; pretty lackluster stuff for a young and promising point guard. But here is where offensive stats don't tell the full story, as Darius Morris had a lot more value on the defensive side of the ball than the offensive side. 

Having only played 48 games (and started 17 of those) it's tough to write too much about the Lakers' top point guard prospect. Despite having a pretty rough season, he was still a major improvement over last season, in which he registered a negative WS/48 (-0.045), a negative total Win Share (-0.2) and had an offensive rating (an estimate of how many points are produced per 100 possessions) of only 84. He managed to up all of those totals over the previous season, bumping his offensive rating up by 12 points to 96. There was some good improvement seen out of him, but some bad habits persisted. 

His tendency to over dribble the ball severely limited offensive possessions and ended up turning them into "Hero Ball" possessions instead of looking for a high percentage shot. Morris frequently would shoot early in the possession, leaving nobody to get the potential offensive rebound, basically costing the Lakers a turnover due to the lost possession. On fast breaks, Morris would get tunnel vision and aim to finish the play himself instead of passing it for an easier look, often resulting in a missed shot or an offensive foul on Morris. Defensively, Morris would often crowd his defensive assignment, even when he shouldn't, and get burned off the dribble (this was noticeable in Earl Clark as well. More than this later). His passing was average and could improve significantly working with Steve Nash

Let's hope this never happens again. 
Morris also had a few positives this season as well. His dribble penetration was vastly improved, as getting to the paint was something he did pretty frequently. He would sometimes try to get to fancy with his passes (sometimes leading to a very nice assists, other times leading to a turnover), but displayed improved vision in the paint and increased awareness of the defense around him. His three point shot improved to the point of him taking nearly 4 three point shot attempts per game, making 36% of them. His defense at the point guard position was above average, using his superior 6'4'', 190 pound frame to muscle smaller opponents out of the lane and contest shots against bigger opponents. 

In short: Morris has a lot of potential and showed improvement over last season. If he could get rid of some bad habits, he could become a solid two-guard in the mold of Monta Ellis