RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Darius MorrisPosted by rtmsf on May 29th, 2011
Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name: Darius Morris
Height/Weight: 6’5, 190 lbs.
NBA Position: Point Guard
Projected Draft Range: Mid- to Late First Round
Overview: Few prospects in this year’s NBA Draft pool were virtually unknown commodities this time last year, but Darius Morris is one of those such players. He entered Michigan not even a top 100 player in the Class of 2009 (according to RSCI Hoops), and after averaging a mere 4.4 PPG and 2.6 APG during his freshman season in Ann Arbor, he was considered a promising player with a steep learning curve ahead of him. Something clicked much sooner than expected by anybody, though, as the sophomore not only tripled his scoring average to 15.0 PPG and his assist average to a Big Ten-leading 6.7 APG, he also led the Wolverines back to the NCAA Tournament after a one-year absence, dominating Tennessee before losing a tight Third Round game to #1 seed Duke. Morris flirted with returning to Michigan for another year, but he instead decided to strike while his iron was hot; at 6’5, he has prototypical size for an NBA point guard and he’s already shown a demonstrated ability to lead a team from that position. In this year’s draft pool, he falls a notch below the Kyrie Irving/Brandon Knight/Kemba Walker/Jimmer Fredette crew, but with his size and proven ability to penetrate, score and act as a distributor, someone in the bottom third of the first wound will undoubtedly pick him up.
Will Translate to the NBA: As mentioned above, his size is exactly what NBA general managers love to see in a point guard — he stands 6’5 with a wingspan that ranks among the best of that position. This size and his innate aggressiveness will translate very well at the next level because he gets to the cup very well and has the length and ability to finish the play in traffic. There’s also something to be said for his extremely quick developmental arc, suggestive of a hunger to learn and work on his game that usually cannot be taught.
Needs Work: He improved his shooting from three last season to a paltry 25% after a horrid 18% his freshman year, but clearly his jump shot is a work in progress. The good news is that he did improve, and there’s nothing fundamentally broken with his shot that would suggest he cannot become competent with practice and repetition. The other area he needs to improve in that will come in time is to avoid some of the tendencies to over-dribble and force plays when so much of the offense necessarily was run through him (he used 29% of UM’s possessions last season).
Comparison Players: A couple of comparisons we’ve heard batted around are Andre Miller and Steve Blake, both tall point guards who run their teams well, if not exceptionally. Miller, a longtime assists leader in the NBA, is a best-case scenario type of situation for Morris, while Blake’s career arc generally as a backup might be a little disappointing, but both players are team-first type of players which make them valuable to GMs throughout the league always in need of reliable distributors.
Best Case Scenario: As noted above, the best case for Morris would be to become a ten-year veteran point guard at the level just below all-star caliber. With his ability to pass the ball, he could approach double-figure assists per game in the NBA even if his offensive game never develops much past his current role as a penetrator. The key for Morris will be getting an opportunity to play through his weaknesses with respect to decision-making and giving up the ball — he obviously won’t get an opportunity to have a third of every play run through him at the next level.
2014 Projection: In three years, Morris is developing nicely into a reliable NBA point guard. He’s also shown an acumen for defending both ones and twos, something that he’d never been asked to do at any prior point in his career. Still only 23 years old, his maturity has come along in tandem with his understanding of how to run a team and he’s widely viewed as one of the better pure points under the age of 25 in the league at this point.
Best NBA Fit: Morris would excel with a couple of years acting as an apprentice to an experienced lead guard who only has a few years remaining in his career. Playing behind Jason Kidd for Dallas would be a tremendously educational opportunity, as would a chance to learn under the tutelage of Mr. Big Shot, Chauncey Billups, at New York. Both players could share their wealth of experiences and groom Morris to become the starter a couple years down the road if everything went well with his development.
Scout’s Take (Chris Denker from Netscouts Basketball): “he should have stayed in school… I’m not sure of his position in the NBA, though… he’ll make a roster, but he’s not ready to contribute right away.”