November 21, 2012 in Professional
With the crazy season the Los Angeles Lakers have been through, including adding future Hall of Famers Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the offseason, firing a coach five games into the season, flirting with bringing back legendary coach Phil Jackson and ultimately settling on Mike D’Antoni, it’s easy for the stellar play of a former second round pick not projected to contribute much this season to slip through the cracks.
But former Michigan standout Darius Morris has been a nice surprise for the Lakers, filling in for the injured Steve Nash and Steve Blake at point guard. Ryan Cole of Forum Blue and Gold wrote about Morris’ impact:
With the transitioning from the Princeton Offense to Mike D’Antoni’s system along with Interim Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff giving Morris the nod to start over Chris Duhon, Morris is now proving his worth to the Lakers and many of the questions we had are being answered. Morris is a true point-guard, he does have what it takes to run an offense, he actually can knock down shots and be consistent on the defensive end. Through eight games Morris is averaging: 6.4 points, 2.9 assists and shooting around 44% from the 3-point line. Not stellar numbers, but indicating that he has grown up and matured as a player.
Morris has earned not only the respect of his teammates, but the coaching staff. Bickerstaff has continued to stress after every game that Morris can’t develop watching guys play, and that this experience is pivotal for his growth as a player. And while Bickerstaff has said that Morris has too much sugar in his game, he also seems to acknowledge the kid is heading in the right direction.
With D’Antoni, who has always used a notoriously short rotation and preferred veterans over young players, now coaching and with Nash and Blake returning soon, it remains to be seen how much Morris will continue to play. But his size, youth and defensive ability make him a unique commodity in a Lakers backcourt that is a bit old and porous defensively.