Timing is everything in life. That old adage applies equally in the world of sports.
If Darius Morris were playing for Phil Jackson then chances are he’d be either in the D-League or wearing a suit and sitting behind the Lakers’ bench this season. Fortunately for Morris, Mike Brown isn’t a rookie hater like PJ. Brown is more than willing to give Morris his chance to shine.
Currently injuries have affected the Lakers’ bench so Brown is left with little other choice but to give his rookies more run than they might expect. Early in the season it was Andrew Goudelock that was seeing the court most often when Brown called upon a first year player. Now that Steve Blake is nursing a rib injury Morris’ number is being called early and often.
More of a natural point guard, Morris has ideal size and a defensive aggressiveness that could make him a permanent fixture in the league. He isn’t afraid of pressuring elite guards such as Chris Paul and routinely picks them up almost as soon as they cross midcourt.
While that tenacity is appreciated it can also be dangerous. No doubt the coaching staff is encouraging Morris to be assertive on defense knowing he’s got a force in the middle named Andrew Bynum behind him. However that aggressive approach also has a negative drawback. Paul put a few ankle breaking crosses on Morris this past Saturday that left the rookie shook like a Jell-O plate in a 5.0 quake.
Clearly Defense is where Morris will make the most immediate impact in the NBA. His offensive game is still being developed and defined. Far too often the L.A. native leaves his feet to pass while also dribbling into the teeth of the defense with no real plan. It has become common place to see vets like Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace pull the youngster aside between plays just to offer some words of wisdom.
In his lone preseason appearance Morris wasn’t at all shy about shooting. That, as you would expect, has changed in the regular season. Now he’s passing up open looks then forces shots at the wrong time. All part of the learning process, for sure, but still frustrating at times.
On offense Morris’ best bet to contribute is in transition. When he gets the rock he’s got to be the engine pushing the Lake Show. One thing he can learn from his L.A. rival, CP3, is that the point guard’s job is to control the tempo. By getting the Lakers out in transition Morris can exploit matchups that otherwise would never occur in a half court setting.
The term “raw” is what best suits Morris at this point. His skill set is such that he can be a real asset going forward but it will take some coaching to get the most out of what he can offer this year. While playing extended minutes it will be important for Morris to stick to the basics of point guard play. Taking care of the ball, getting out in transition and above all else getting the rock to his teammates in optimal positions are the areas Darius can make an effective impact. Beyond that about all he’s doing is holding it down until Blake gets back. But with some improved play who knows what kind of a role he could earn going forward.