Know the Prospect: Darius Morris

Weekend edition!  Not exactly "Early Edition" (did anyone else watch that show?) but it will do.  I started this post on Wednesday.  I planned on having it done on Wednesday, but my undiagnosed ADD said otherwise.  Now I am writing this after the announcement that our beloved Donnie Walsh will not be returning as President/GM of the Knicks next season.  This is sad news, and I am coping by listening to Dashboard Confessional.  In the mean time, let's all take our minds off this mess and get to know another prospect. 

Darius Aaron (!) Morris is a sophomore point guard for the Michigan Wolverines.  After a standout sophomore campaign, Darius declared for the draft and subsequently decided to remain in the draft.  Morris has a lot of qualities that make him an attractive pick.  First, he is a point guard, and a natural one at that.  Second, he is a tall point guard.  Third, the NBA needs another player named Darius badly after the failed Darius Miles experiment (although he and Q were quite the duo).  Morris is a youngster, but he showed enough growth this year at Michigan and in their near-upset of Duke in the NCAA Tournament to prove just how far he's come in a year and how ready he is for the next level.

The run-down:

Measurements: Height w/o shoes - 6' 3.25"; Height w/shoes - 6' 5.25"; Weight - 190; Wingspan - 6' 7.5"; Standing Reach - 8' 6"; Body Fat (almost typed Boy Fat...) - 5.3%.

Projected Draft Position (as of right now): 33 on Draft Express, 23 at NBADraft.net, 23 at ProBasketballDraft.com.

Actual Profiles and Junk: DraftExpress.com (which has a nice interview), NBADraft.netStatSheetESPNWolverine Player Profile.

Amateur Take - Offense: I don't recall ever watching Morris play in college.  I feel like I had watched Michigan games over the last two years, but my memory fails me.  Either way, I listened to the Duke game on the radio.  It sounded like Morris took over at the end, which is encouraging.  Morris started for Michigan quite a bit as a true freshman, and this year he started all but one.  All of Morris' stats improved this season.  His scoring went up from 4.3 PPG to 15 PPG, his FG% went up from 40 to 48%, his 3P% went up from 18% (Woof) to 25% (Still woof), his assists went up (2.6 to 6.7) and so on.  He took advantage of the opportunity to be the full-time starting point guard, and did it to the tune of a Big Ten-leading 6.7 APG (which also placed him fifth in the nation).  He's a table-setter, which is what the Knicks need with offensive weapons like Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.  He's not the outside shooter that the Knicks would like as far as stretching the floor is concerned, but his size and strength at the point guard position will create matchup problems and allow him to score in other ways.  Also, the fact that his overall FG% remains close to 50% despite that atrocious outside shooting shows how effective he is at scoring inside the arc.

Amateur Take - Defense: Morris' size and quickness are advantages for him on the defensive end.  His height and length give him an advantage over smaller guards and give him the opportunity to hang with shooting guards potentially at the next level.  Last season he averaged 1 SPG and also around 3 DRB a game, so he is pretty active on that side of the ball.  I believe that with his size and length, he could be a pesky defender.  It depends on his energy level and commitment to defense.  I know some players on this current Knicks roster aren't the greatest defensive role models, but I would hope he comes out guns blazing and looking to wreak havoc on defense.  

Comparisons: The one everyone throws out there for Darius is Andre Miller, another smooth point guard with size that is a very good distributor.  Draft Express has his "Worst Case" as Mustafa Shakur, and if nothing else that's an awesome name.  Just based purely on looks, I see a little bit of Andre Miller, but in some images I get Kendall Gill...

The Clyde Factor: Darius Morris is another seemingly simple name, one that you would think Clyde wouldn't be able to screw up.  You have to imagine Clyde using words like "nefarious", "Precarious", or even "Age of Aquarius" (unfortunately, Darius is not an actual Aquarius. We aren't personally compatible). in association with Darius.  It makes too much sense!

Potpourri:

  • Why it was a good decision for Morris to remain in the draft.
  • He is currently being mentored by John Wall.  In basketball, I assume.
  • After hitting a game-winning bucket against Michigan St., Morris almost got into an altercation with MSU point guard Kalin Lucas after Lucas threw the basketball at him when time expired.  Don't play Darius like that.
  • He was named Michigan's team MVP this season.

Let's go to the video:

Michigan Basketball Clips Iowa 87-73 (via MGoBlueVideo) -Morris recorded a triple-double this game.

UMHoops.com: Darius Morris Shotclock Dunk (via umhoops)

Darius Morris - Michigan is my Choice Mix (via Ballislifedotcom)

Things to take away:

 

  • Academics are tight at Michigan.
  • You can see where his size is an advantage as far as running an offense is concerned.  He can see over defenders and get out of traps with his height, on the college level anyway.
  • My god he has some court vision.
  • He looks extremely comfortable with the rock and he has a good handle.
  • I'm loving some of those one-handed passes.  Anything that comes close to old-school Jason Williams gets my seal of approval.
  • He's got some flair, and I don't have a problem with that unless it turns sloppy.
  • His shooting form doesn't look god-awful, so there is the possibility his outside shot could improve?  I'm just speculating here.

Final Thoughts: Darius Morris is another young point guard that I would have no problem selecting somewhere in the first round.  His size and playmaking abilities would make him a nice player to mold into a lead distributor for guys like Amar'e and Carmelo.  For me, it's still a toss-up between him and Reggie Jackson as far as point guards go.  I think Morris has a little more potential because of his size, but there is something about Reggie too that just seems hard to quantify.  I think Morris' huge improvement this season speaks volumes about how he embraced that starting role with Michigan as just a sophomore.  The same can be said for Jackson at BC.  What it comes down to will be which guard can better fit as a distributor, and for me I think that guy is Morris.  As long as the Knicks are able to acquire some reliable poopers, Morris' outside deficiencies can be hidden.  

As for the #17 pick, it seems like a kid this young with this much potential would be higher on draft boards.  I don't know what his stock will do before the draft, but I think that the Knicks would be wise to use the #17 pick on some size, like a Chris Singleton, and then wait until later in the first round or even early second round to acquire a pick for this guy.  Or, depending on what happens leading up to the draft, vice versa.  All in all, I would like to see this guy tossing lobs to Amar'e Stoudemire.

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