Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Ever since being selected as the 13th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Markieff Morris' level of performance for the Suns has been underwhelming.
However, this could be the season that Morris proves he is capable of starting at the NBA level.
With Luis Scola gone, Morris is set to be the starting power forward on the depth chart. Unless either Channing Frye or Marcus Morris are able to shine this season, Markieff should be able to keep that spot.
Contrary to popular belief, Markieff has done relatively well when given starting minutes. Last season, in 13 games where he played at least 30 minutes, Morris averaged 15.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 50 percent from downtown.
Considering those numbers, perhaps Markieff can still be the team's future starting power forward. However, he has a lot of work to do before the Suns are ready to commit a few more years to him.
First of all, Markieff is an incredibly inconsistent shooter. He can be the best shooter on the court when he is on a hot streak, but he can also mindlessly chuck up long-range shots again and again to no avail. For example, in April of last season, Morris was on fire, knocking down 13 of his 20 three-point attempts. But on the other hand, there were also months such as January, where he shot just 5-for-27.
Additionally, he absolutely must work on his defense. New head coach Jeff Hornacek may not be as interested in building a defensive-minded team as Lindsey Hunter was, but that doesn't excuse Markieff from his often atrocious defensive play. Last season, Morris allowed opposing power forwards to average 17.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per 36 minutes, along with sporting a 55 percent effective field-goal percentage.
If Morris is to be a part of the Suns' long-term plans, he can no longer be a defensive liability. Hopefully this is the year he puts it all together and takes a big step forward. But if not, perhaps Phoenix will give up on him soon enough.