“We’re good,” George said. “We’re a good group. We added a big piece in Markieff (Morris) that we’re excited for, and we’re gonna be ready for the second half after this break.”
Paul George isn’t wrong in his statement, but will Markieff Morris fulfill what the Thunder need? Or will he continue his inconsistencies from his 34-game experience with the Washington Wizards?
The answer is slightly complicated. Although the Wizards were eight points per 100 possessions worse with him on the floor, he was also the featured player often times off the bench and didn’t have the best supporting cast. The Wizards kept swapping out fringe NBA players that Morris had no help. That would be remedied in OKC with Dennis Schröder and Nerlens Noel playing alongside him in the second unit.
As said, he was often the go-to guy on the Wizards second team. That wouldn’t be the case in Oklahoma City and the fact that Schröder and Noel have built such camaraderie could affect Morris’s production.
Long story short rather that’s true or not, the Thunder need one thing out of Morris; for him to be better than Patrick Patterson, in every way, which is why his tenure in OKC may fare better than in Washington D.C.
When I say better than Patterson, I primarily mean athletically and defensively. Both players are 33.8 percent three-point shooters so that’s a lateral adjustment for OKC but Morris’ ability to defend and serve as a shorter but bigger and meaner version of Noel is what makes this acquisition such a potentially lethal weapon to use against other Western Conference teams.
Patterson will knock down threes but his production is so inconsistent and his athletic ability isn’t compatible with the rest of the Thunder. Morris may be just as inconsistent as Patterson on the offensive end but he’ll serve as a step up athletically.
Defensively speaking, Morris wasn’t great statistically in D.C. More specifically, he wasn’t great in pick-and-roll defense. He continuously didn’t defend the back end of ball screens well.
This is being said with the disclaimer that Washington has not been a very productive defensive team all season. Wall would put Morris in some sticky situations on the defensive end by letting ball-handlers drive around him, putting Morris on an island with them. Morris was in continuous situations where he didn’t know what to do when Wall failed to pick up his man or call for a switch on screens.
The mentality is completely different in Oklahoma City. They already boast a stingy defense. The problems Morris had with the Wizards will presumably be alleviated as Morris will be paired with top-tier defenders like Paul, Terrance Ferguson and maybe, Andre Roberson.
All in all, the Wizards are a poor basketball team this year that just started their rebuild. The Thunder are on pace to win 55 games and are a title contender, so Morris’s previous issues may not be, with a team that better supports his style of play.