April 4, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) warms up prior to a game against the Utah Jazz at Energy Solutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
Next week Bill Self will send his fourth big man in the last three years to the draft as a first round pick. How did last year's Jayhawk draft picks produce during their rookie seasons in the NBA.
Kansas has a reputation of putting big men into the NBA in recent years. Nick Collison and Cole Aldrich are both in the NBA finals and Thomas Robinson will be a top five pick in the upcoming draft. The most recent Jayhawks to wrap up rookie seasons in the NBA out of Kansas are the Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff.
Markieff was drafted higher in last years draft despite Marcus having the more high profile career at Kansas. Marcus followed just one pick after Markieff and the brothers were separated for the first time in their lives. Marcus would go to Houston while Markieff would find himself in Phoenix. As is often the case in the NBA the fit and the right opportunity can make all the difference.
Those two things have led to a mixed bag for the twins through one year in the league. Marcus was never able to gain a lot of traction in Houston due to a bit of a logjam at the power forward and small forward positions. Marcus was a classic example of a tweener and that led to some time in the developmental league and unfortunately not a lot of game action in Houston. While Marcus still figures to be in the future plans for the Rockets, year one just didn't provide a huge opportunity and that led to a less celebrated rookie season.
For Markieff it was almost the opposite scenario. The Suns had starting depth, but Markieff was a player that could come off the bench at multiple positions and provide a spark. Markieff was often viewed as the twin with a more natural position at the NBA level and that might have been a reason for the increased production.
Markieff appeared in 63 of 66 games for the Suns over the course of the lockout shortened season and during that time he over seven points and four rebounds per game in just over nineteen minutes of action. These aren't rookie of the year numbers by any means but they are solid production in limited action from a player with a bright future.
Next week Bill Self will send his fourth big man to the draft as a first round pick in the last three years. Robinson appears to have the highest ceiling and the opportunity to be selected at the highest spot. But the Morris twins were and still are high potential players in the NBA despite a mixed bag of results in year one.