RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Markieff Morris

Posted by Brian Goodman on June 8th, 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: Markieff Morris


Height/Weight: 6’9/240 lbs.

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Overview: Markieff Morris is an intriguing mid-first-round prospect who maintained his defensive prowess throughout college while slowly developing an offensive game for Bill Self’s Jayhawks. Accompanying his brother, Marcus, to Kansas after de-commiting from Memphis, Markieff saw less than 20 minutes per game in his first two seasons, as playing time was hard to find behind his brother and Cole Aldrich. In those limited opportunities, however, he proved terrific defensively, averaging over 11 rebounds per 40 minutes and enforcing the paint with his big body and a mean streak. In his sophomore campaign, his offense started to come around,  learning the ability to finish when his teammates were doubled and boosting his field goal percentage up to 56% in 6.8 PPG. In 2010-11, he impressed with considerably more offensive development, showing range to the three-point line (42%) and solidifying his defensive rep as an edgy rebounding bulldog with a Big 12-leading 8.3 RPG.  He also led the Jayhawks in blocks as a junior, but his improved ability to become a scorer in his junior season helped his team become another #1 seed and a Final Four favorite. At the next level, Morris will need to develop a better one-on-one post game, but he already possesses an effective drop-step move that helps him finish in halfcourt sets.

The Lesser-Known Morris Twin Has Many Talents Himself

Will Translate to the NBA: Morris’ defensive versatility and demonstrated shooting range makes him a very appealing option at power forward, especially with thin big-man competition in this draft class. He has the ability to defend multiple positions and rebound at a productive clip, and those skill sets will always have value to an NBA team. Concerns about his body are non-existent, which can’t be said for other draft candidates at his position like Tobias Harris or Kyle Singler. If given the opportunity, he can show that his gradual improvement in his three collegiate seasons is just the tip of the iceberg.

Needs Work: While Morris’ scoring ability has improved, it’s still a nascent part of his game that can use development, mostly when it comes to post play. His repertoire down low is reliant on a limited set of moves, which will need growth against bigger and more experienced competition. Morris will also have to harness the more mental parts of life at the next level, as his competitive temper last season occasionally gave way to lapses in decision-making on the court. There’s nothing wrong with him playing with a chip on his shoulder as long as he stays out of his own way.

Comparison Players:  We see a considerably less explosive Antonio McDyess when looking at Markieff Morris, a player who has a true knack for rebounding the ball for the minutes he’s on the floor, but one who also never developed a reliable low-post game and eventually became a mid-range jump shooter.  A younger comparison player might be a less-skilled Kevin Love.  Morris will never lead the league in rebounding, but he could get close to double-figures in that statistic even if he’s not a 40+ minute player each night.

Best Case Scenario:  The best case for Morris would be if can continue to develop his offensive game so that he can burn teams out to 22 feet as well as in the post on the blocks.  There’s no reason to believe he cannot get there, as his set shot has nice touch out to the college three-point line and he’s shown a true propensity for improvement during his last three years at Kansas.  If everything comes together for Morris, there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t eventually become an indispensable piece of a good team’s starting lineup, averaging a double-double and providing anenforcer’s mentality underneath the basket.

2014 Projection:  After three years of on-the-job training, Morris has once again started to hit his stride.  The team that drafted him loves his aggressiveness and ownership mentality when it comes to securing the ball in the paint.  He’s developed at least one go-to move inside and continues to show his range against power forwards reluctant to leave the basket area to guard him.  In many ways, he will have passed his brother in terms of absolute value to a team, and his future in the league will look bright.

Best NBA Fit: Every team in the league needs players like Morris, defensive-oriented enforcers who grab rebounds and can shoot the ball in the mid-range.  But he would be best served as a backup for the first few years of his career so that he can learn on the job from his elders.  Playing behind Amare Stoudemire for the New York Knicks (#17), Kevin Love for the Minnesota Timberwolves (#20), or LaMarcus Aldridge for the Portland Trail Blazers (#21) would be ideal.

Scout’s Take (Chris Denker from Netscouts Basketball): “both twins are well-schooled bigs solid in all facets of the game… Markieff is bigger than Marcus and a better athlete than him too, although not as skilled… he runs the floor better than most fours.”

Brian Goodman (967 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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