Former Michigan point guard Darius Morris, a second round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers last season, has had an up and down Summer League. His numbers — 15.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists in about 29 minutes per game — have been solid. Save for an outstanding 9-for-9 performance, however, he hasn’t shot the ball well — 37 percent overall and 27 percent from three.
As I mentioned in my Keith Benson post the other day, I am openly biased and rooting for all of the players with ties to the state of Michigan hoping to make rosters this summer, so it’s hard for me to critique performances. Therefore, I reached out to a more impartial observer for some thoughts on Morris. Darius Soriano (follow him on Twitter) writes about the Lakers for Forum Blue and Gold. Here is his take on Morris:
I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Darius Morris this summer. From the outset, you can tell he’s worked on his body – he’s more muscular and considering it hasn’t affected his quickness it’s only aiding him since he already had good size for a point guard.
As for his game, he looks more decisive in what he wants to do on any given possession — a marked improvement from where he was early in the regular season. In Las Vegas, he seemed to have a plan for how he wanted to attack the defense which led to better decision making overall. He flashed good ability to break down his man off the dribble to get to the rim and score while also showing good ability as a creator off the bounce in the pick and roll. In his last two games he even showed the beginnings of a nice little post game where he’d use his size advantage against smaller defenders to create good looks for himself or a teammate. Add all of the above to his natural ability as a playmaker in the open court and he showed that he certainly has an NBA game.
Where he continues to struggle, however, is with his jumpshot. When coming off screens or pulling up off the dribble for his jumper, he’s still inconsistent in knocking down the open shot. He was a bit better when he was able to get his feet set, but considering he had the ball in his hands so often as a creator, he didn’t get many spot up opportunities. He also still tends to over-dribble when looking to break down the defense, so he’ll need to find a better balance between when he has an opportunity to attack and when he needs to move the ball on to the open man.
Overall, I think he has a very good chance to stick and make the team come October. I don’t know if he’ll be able to beat out Steve Blake as the back up PG, but I do think seeing Steve Nash work every day will be a great learning experience for Morris and aid in his development. As an aside, there were many calls for the Lakers to draft Scott Machado (PG, Iona) in this past draft but I have the feeling they held off because they think they may have something in Morris. His size and natural playmaking ability are a tough combo to find and since he’s still young he can certainly develop into a rotation player should he stay on his current trajectory.