It's been just over a week since the 2011 NBA Draft and the NBA lockout looms large with its shadow overhead. Yet that doesn't stop the annual look over the rosters to see which rookies are playing in the right situations to break out at the college level. Some rookies at the NBA level are bound to succeed -- or at least put up decent numbers -- because they were brought on to replace a major void. For instance, the Cleveland Cavs choices of Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson will both play immediately because of their draft status as top overall choices -- and the Cavs nicely cleared a path for Thompson with their recent trade of J.J. Hickson.
Kevin Pelton of ESPN has a new column discussing the possibilities for NBA Rookie of the Year for the coming 2011-12 season, and he sees the Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris as a possibility to make an impact enough to take the trophy. He writes:
If the rookie of the year is to come outside the top 10, the two most likely candidates are power forwards Faried and Morris, both of whom are ready to contribute in the NBA immediately. If Faried can carve out 25 minutes a night for the Denver Nuggets, who are in need of a starter at the position with Kenyon Martin headed for free agency, his projection calls for 8.4 rebounds a night. Morris faces more competition for playing time in Phoenix and is unlikely to match Faried's eye-popping rebounding numbers, but expect him to be one of the league's most efficient rookie scorers.
It's an interesting statement about the Morris who surprisingly was selected over his more high-profile brother, Marcus Morris, given that Markieff is generally known for his defensive talents and intensity. Phoenix certainly chose Markieff for his defensive presence and versatility in the frontcourt, so to note his offensive ability is a rare mention. Markieff will get his share of shots down low on putbacks and high-percentage selections, and that's what Pelton is referring to, but it's interesting nonetheless.
Equally as surprising is the lack of a mention of Marcus Morris who was clearly a favorite of the Houston Rockets to have taken him over Kawhi Leonard who the Pacers snatched up at No. 15. Marcus has the better all-around game and should add plenty to the Rockets despite naysayers who believe he has no true position -- and thus no real fit -- in the NBA level. Either way, it should be a good year for former Jayhawk big men in the NBA with the addition of the Morris twins. Whether or not they are ROY material remains to be seen.