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Morris twins key players in Suns' turnaround

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Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) tries to get off a shot over San Antonio Spurs' Matt Bonner (15) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) tries to get off a shot over San Antonio Spurs' Matt Bonner (15) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

In a perfect NBA world, the powers that be would allow the top 16 teams in the league to duke it out in the playoffs to decide the championship.

Unfortunately for the fans, that postseason utopia doesn't exist. If it did, Phoenix, which went 48-34 in the 2013-14 regular season, would have easily made the playoffs. Instead, the Suns, who play in the deeper Western Conference, have to watch the action on TV with the rest of us.

When the season ended prematurely for Phoenix, Matt Petersen of Suns.com began offering a series of season reviews on each of the franchise's players.

A bench star in the Suns' entertaining campaign, Markieff Morris emerged as a legit NBA player in his third year — 13.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 48.6% FGs, 31.5% 3s in 26.6 minutes.

As far as the 24-year-old power forward's highlight of the year, according to the Suns' site, that came in November, against the back-to-back NBA champion Miami Heat. Morris turned Chris "Birdman" Andersen into a YouTube victim after making on-ball defender Rashard Lewis look even worse.

First-year Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said Morris comes off the bench and makes the offense flow smoothly.

“We need Markieff’s energy, scoring in the post on guys. It keeps us from shooting nothing but jump shots. The other guys can post up some, but consistently, we can go to him five, six, seven times and then they have to start figuring out what to do with him. He kicks it out and we get good stuff. He allows us to play that inside-out game that not a lot of our other guys give us.”

According to the Bright Side of the Sun blog, Morris, who led the league with 11 double-doubles off the bench, earned an A on his season report card.


Marcus an important Suns backup, too

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) dunks as teammate Ish Smith (3) pumps his fist as the Indiana Pacers defense of Paul George (24), Roy Hibbert (55), David West (21) and Lance Stephenson look around during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Pacers 124-100. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) dunks as teammate Ish Smith (3) pumps his fist as the Indiana Pacers defense of Paul George (24), Roy Hibbert (55), David West (21) and Lance Stephenson look around during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Pacers 124-100. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Markieff wasn't the only Morris twin helping Phoenix reverse its fortunes this season. Marcus played nearly just as big a role, also off the Suns' bench.

In his first full season playing alongside Markieff in the NBA (Marcus began his career in Houston), he averaged 9.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 22.0 minutes. Marcus shot 44.2% from the floor and 38.1% from 3-point land.

Suns.com's Petersen deemed the following dunk — on San Antonio's Aron Baynes — the play of the year for Marcus.

But Marcus proved just as deadly spotting up behind the 3-point line. He hit 99 from deep (a career high for the third-year forward) on 260 tries. Hornacek said Marcus needed that weapon in his repertoire.

“He had that [midrange ability] in college. He’s developed the outside game, the deep three, since he’s been in the pros. That’s kind of his strength.”


Aldrich spent most of season at end of bench

New York Knicks' Cole Aldrich plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Minneapolis. The Knicks won 118-106. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

New York Knicks' Cole Aldrich plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Minneapolis. The Knicks won 118-106. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Drafted in 2010, Cole Aldrich has yet to produce a career-changing season to put him on the NBA map.

Since his arrival in the league, the 6-11 center never has averaged more than 11.7 minutes with a team in a season (and that came in 15 games for Sacramento after a mid-season trade), nor more than 3.3 points (also in 15-game Sactown stint).

In 2013-14, with New York, Aldrich averaged 7.2 minutes, 2.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in 46 games.

Charlie Widdoes took a different kind of look at Aldrich's fourth year for the Knicks' website. Projected over 36 minutes, Aldrich would have averaged a double-double, with 10 points and 14.1 rebounds.

And, as Widdoes points out, Aldrich set a career high with 16 rebounds and scored 13 points in the Knicks' season finale, when he played 40 minutes.

Said Aldrich:

"The biggest thing is staying ready. You never know when your name's going to be called."

He'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Aldrich's former coach in NYC, Mike Woodson, who was fired after the season, praised the still young big man for his work.

"He's earned the right to be on somebody's ball club."


Tweetworthy

• Tuesday was a historic day in the NBA, with commissioner Adam Silver issuing a lifetime ban to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling after he made racist comments in a taped conversation.

Miami guard Mario Chalmers, like a number of players around the league, complimented the new commish's handling of the situation via Twitter.

None by Mario Chalmers

• Elsewhere, it looks like Ben McLemore is fully embracing the joys of the offseason.

None by Ben McLemore


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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