After weeks or even months of speculation, interviews, workouts and mock drafts, the 2011 NBA Draft finally revealed the exact standings on draft boards of the famed Morris twins of Kansas. Both Markieff and Marcus went back-to-back in the middle of the first round, with Markieff Morris headed to the Phoenix Suns at No. 13 and Marcus Morris immediately following at No. 14 to the Houston Rockets. Former teammate Thomas Robinson says that's too low for his friends.
"I’m pretty biased when it comes to my teammates -- Marcus and Markieff (Morris) -- I felt they should have gone earlier in the draft. Not many players are better than they are. Of course I’m proud of them," Robinson told KU Sports. It's exactly the type of quote that anyone connected closely with the Morris twins would have said, obviously, but what if he's right? Perhaps NBA history will allow analysts to look back and realize that Robinson was right -- the Morris twins were undervalued.
The reason this is interesting at this point is because of the many projects in front of them. Jimmer Fredette is a big ticket draw and incredible scorer, but major questions exist about significant parts of his game -- including motivation and defense. Some love Jan Vesely's offensive upside, but others like John Hollinger of ESPN believe his game doesn't transfer well to the NBA at all. Bismack Biyombo is all defense and should be a major offensive liability. The common thread? All three were taken well above either of the Morris twins.
NBA front offices are in love with even the remote possibility of grabbing a major impact player -- someone who will transform into a game-changing talent. That's an obvious love for any franchise, but the reality is that so few exist in the overall NBA and this year's draft was devoid of any single player with that type of consensus concerning their talent. Overall first pick Kyrie Irving is smooth, but even those who love his game believe he's a one- or two-time All-Star at best. Derrick Williams is the best bet there, but suffice to say, there was no Blake Griffin in this year's draft.
So once those two talents went, teams began to roll the dice and hope. They hope that Jonas Valanciunas will become a Dirk Nowitzki clone once he finally arrives. They hope that Biyombo can become a Ben Wallace type. They hope that Fredette can elevate his overall game and round out his weaknesses. They select. They hope. Happens every year.
The Morris twins both represent the opposite. Several writers slammed the Rockets for passing on small forward Kawhi Leonard to take Marcus, a player they believe to be without a position -- someone unable to play the three yet too small for the four. Yet Marcus exhibited zero weaknesses at Kansas with a stellar career capped by a Big 12 Player of the Year campaign his final season where he excelled on both offense and defense, proving himself capable to be an asset to a team in a number of ways.
Markieff is the same way, a player who is an immediate defensive strength (a la Biyombo) without embarrassing himself in any other area of the game. He's versatile and immediately boosts a team's post presence -- something every single team in the NBA should be looking for. Both are good passers, have great instincts and are smart, tough players. Both are dependable whether in practice or game time, and both seem eager to learn at the next level.
Passing over the Morris twins for a project is akin to looking over the pretty girl who's already your close friend for the sake of the blond you're checking out from across the room. Nine times out of ten, you end up cursing yourself for not realizing what was right in front of you. Players like Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris should end up proving in the end that the well-rounded safe choice is always the right way to go -- no matter how sexy something looks from a (Euro) distance.