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NBA Draft 2011: Markieff Morris Fills Defensive Promise For Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns made a promise, and Markieff Morris is their attempt to fulfill it. By making the former Kansas Jayhawk their pick at No. 13 in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Suns complete a roster makeover that has been going on under head coach Alvin Gentry for some time. Now the Suns can finally claim that an era is behind them.

That era is the one where the Suns were as known for their defensive liabilities as their offensive prowess, one where Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudamire and Steve Nash never stopped running and the Suns never stopped scoring. They also failed to play any defense and eventually the formula faltered. After all, even with consistent tinkering, the Suns could never turn the corner in the playoffs and go all the way.

Enter last year when their acquisitions of Robin Lopez in the draft and Marcin Gortat via trade solidified the middle unlike any recent season in Phoenix. It provided a defensive foundation for the Suns to begin to build on while still utilizing Nash’s incredible talents. Morris now adds to that, providing another strong rebounder and defensive presence versatile enough to play power forward or center.

Morris should be an instant starter at either position given the current state of the Suns roster. Channing Frye is penciled in at starter at power forward, but his value is only in his scoring, and he’s a major liability on the defensive end of the floor. He’s best served as a spark off the bench. However, the trade rumors surrounding Gortat might push Morris to the middle as the Suns starting center.

The rest of the off-season will have to play out before fans will know exactly how the Suns will use Morris. But it’s clear he fills not only a great need on the team but a promise as well.