2011 NBA Draft: Why Marcus Morris Is This Year's Ultimate Sleeper

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2011

2011 NBA Draft: Why Marcus Morris Is This Year's Ultimate Sleeper

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    With the 2011 NBA draft less than a week away, teams are starting to brainstorm best case scenarios.

    NBA franchises are looking to either plug roster holes, replace washed-up and vacant players, or find the next big thing, all within two rounds of player selections come June 23rd.

    The draft is going to feature some of the best young players around, including Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker.

    However, a team's draft success completely hinders on sound scouting and sheer basketball common sense.

    For the most part, we've gathered the strategic plans for many of the early picks in the first round, but where and when do the other guys fall?

    And do they have enough NBA potential to post better career numbers than earlier draftees?

    We'll soon find out.

    Here is why Kansas power forward Marcus Morris is going to be this year's ultimate draft sleeper.

5. Big Man Ball Handling

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    Marcus Morris has some serious ball handling skills for a player his size.

    At 6'8", 230, Morris has superior dribbling assets when compared to some NBA players at his position.

    With his frame and solid court mechanics, Morris should be ready to be a dual threat in the league, either at small forward or power.

    His ability to handle the ball has led to his on the fly basket attacks, which has added even more praise to his already rising NBA draft stock.

    Many teams are going to target Morris come draft day, so it couldn't hurt to be a hands-on big man.

4. NBA Motor

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    Adding to his already NBA ready body, Marcus Morris brings outstanding stamina and hustle to the professional level.

    Morris played nearly 15.0 minutes per half during his 2010-2011 season with Kansas, offering the Jayhawks stability and consistent up and down the court hustle.

    He's one of the better all-around forwards in this year's draft when it comes to his motor, so team's need to realize that the 21-year-old is more than ready to offer his employer significant playing time.

    Whether or not he takes on a small forward's speed or a power forward banging around in the paint, Morris is ready to play from start to finish.

3. Perimeter Shooting

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    Surprisingly, for a player of his size and driving ability, Marcus Morris is a pretty darn good shooter.

    He sports a career .372 three-point percentage, proving that even the best of the college big men can knock it down from behind the arc.

    Morris hit a career high 26 three-pointers last year, adding to his already impressive scoring ability.

    Considering he's a fairly quick and compact forward, Morris has enough outside ability to pose problems for NBA defenders.

    Look for him to not only work on his shot success at the NBA level, but turn out to be one of the better perimeter shooting big men in the league.

2. Field-Goal Percentage

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    In 2010-2011, Marcus Morris ranked seventh in field-goal percentage (.587) among players with at least 15.0 PPG.

    As I mentioned before, Morris has a complimentary outside game to go along with his inside scoring ability, culminating into one hell of an efficient scorer.

    Plus he's only going to get better as he transits from college to the NBA.

    Morris should shine in any lineup that drafts him, improving through floor separation, shot selection, and more one-on-one opportunities at the professional level.

    Over the past two season, Morris practically posted identical shooting percentages.


                    2009-2010             2010-2011

    FG %:       .570                         .570

    3P %:        .375                         .342

    FT %:        .660                         .688


    Clearly, consistency is not a factor for Morris.

1. NBA Readiness

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    Through all the hoopla and speculation of the NBA draft and it's college stars, the fact remains that only a handful of players can be considered NBA ready.

    Marcus Morris is on that VIP list.

    Even though Morris doesn't flash significant scoring, defense, or passing to have him mentioned among the top-five players in this year's draft, the young power forward has a little bit of everything.

    He's extremely mobile for his size and eventual NBA position, whether it be a No. 3 or a No. 4 forward, and has shown enough consistency from the outside to be considered an above-average perimeter player at this point in his career.

    Furthermore, Morris can not only handle the ball with near ease, but his 6'8" frame can use that talent to get around defenders and utilize his best offensive asset, driving the ball inside.

    And when he gets inside, he can knock down free throws at nearly 70 percent.

    Morris seems ready.

    While other teams are smiling from ear to ear about selecting Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and Derrick Williams, an NBA franchise is going to luck out in the middle picks with one of the best players in the 2011 NBA draft.

    Did I mention he has a twin brother?