Friday, June 24, 2011

Darius Morris to the Lakers

Yesterday, I went out for a drink with my girlfriend to meet one of her cousins and her slightly older (well, significantly older) boyfriend. The Houston Rockets had just made the #23 overall pick and it wasn't Darius Morris so, disheartened by the situation, I felt it was OK to step away from the TV. At said social engagement, the fellow seemed nice enough: he had a firm handshake and left his iPhone on the table--like me--checking for updates on the NBA draft. I mentioned that I'm a Michigan fan and Detroit product. He was snooty about this. My interest in Morris came up and I told him that he'd be a perfect fit for the Lakers, to which he responded something along the lines of, "I don't want a Michigan guy. I can understand why you like football: the tradition. But I don't want a Michigan guy." I'm excited to see him at Thanksgiving.

Aside from Morris landing in his home town, there really weren't many situations better suited for him. The Lakers point guard position has been their Achilles heel for the last two years; fast PGs (see Aaron Brooks, Chris Paul, or JJ Barea) have dissected the Lakers defense with regularity. Derek Fisher has become less consistent with the ball, too slow on defense, and even his three point shooting has been in marked decline. Their other options were Steve Blake or forcing Shannon Brown into the role. The Lakers need a point guard.

But more than all of that, Morris' deficiencies (his shooting primarily) is something that won't become an issue for a few years. With Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol consuming 53.6% of the Lakers possessions last year (and Fisher only using 12.7%), Morris won't be asked to do a lot of shooting early on. The Lakers have the players to take and hit shots, but they don't have a legitimate floor general that's looking to create for others. In addition, Morris' size and defensive abilities will allow Kobe to cross match against a lot of teams, saving his energy for the offensive side of the ball.

What Michigan fans want to know is whether or not Morris made the Right Decision. The Wolverine Blog thinks so and I was inclined to say yes prior to the draft, but I'm not entirely sure anymore. Morris lucked into the perfect location and didn't go undrafted a la Manny Harris a year before, but it's clear that the Lakers drafted Morris for a try-out, not necessarily to take the helm of the team. Drafted just five spots after Morris was Andrew Goudelock, a shooterly point guard in keeping with their franchise stalwart Fisher, who Kobe loves dearly. If Morris can make the roster and earn significant minutes in his rookie year, he probably made the right choice. But if he finds himself cut from the team or riding the pine, his increased draft stock after a third year at Michigan (the likes of which would've risen to first-round status) will be a wasted opportunity.

Best of luck to Darius though. Hopefully I'll be able to catch more than a few Lakers game this year and check him out in person.


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