Random Draft Thoughts: The Morris Twins

Twins and brothers entering the NBA draft often face the risk of falling into the role of the "other brother..." The role of Robin Lopez, Taylor Griffin, and other lesser-known brothers to their superior siblings in the NBA. Their careers are forever shadowed and sometimes even forgotten about while their brothers, the Brook Lopezes and Blake Griffins of the NBA, forever establish themselves in the spotlight, forever as the "better brother."

Marcus and Markieff Morris are the stars of the Kansas basketball team, and led the Jayhawks to the Elite Eight this year before being bounced from the tournament by this year's Cinderella, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Marcus and Markieff look almost identical, are both big and built at 6'9'' and 6'10'' respectively, and even have matching tattoos. Both of them are projected to be picked about midway through the first round, with Marcus typically going about three to five picks earlier than his slightly larger, slightly older twin brother. While Marcus is largely considered the better of the two twins, due to his versatile scoring ability and athleticism for his size (17.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG), his brother Markieff should not be dismissed to follow in the footsteps of the "other brothers" preceding him.

While the Morris twins are only about an inch apart in height, their varying skill-sets each come with individual assets that could offer a lot to teams willing to draft either one of them. On the other hand, neither Morris is perfect, and both of them have a lot to learn before they will reach their peak contributing to an NBA franchise. As mentioned before, draft experts typically rank Marcus above his brother primarily for his ability to score. He is undoubtedly a great athlete, and has shown in his three years at Kansas that he has absolutely no problem beating guys his size off the dribble.

Where Marcus lacks NBA readiness is in commitment to the dirty work. Despite a clear advantage in athleticism over most players of his size, his defensive presence is lacking with just .6 blocks per game. Also, like many other players entering the draft, Marcus has grown accustomed to being the star scorer on the floor, yet he was unable to lead his team to victory over the underdogs at VCU. Morris and the Jayhawks hustled, but were still outhustled. As a rookie and a role player, the little things matter dearly, and Marcus will have to develop his play to better suit his role. Right now he could be compared to other bigger softer guys with shooting capability such as Jeff Green or Al Harrington, but a dedication to improved defense, rebounding, and overall hustle will be what makes or breaks Marcus's career.

Markieff may not have the quickness, flashy moves, or versatile scoring ability that his twin does, but he does have the size, athleticism, and grittiness that coaches love to see from their rookie players. Because Markieff plays more like a big man than Marcus, I believe the impact he could have as a rookie actually surpasses his twin brother's ceiling, even if the scoring numbers lean in Marcus's favor. Markieff averaged slightly less points (13.6 PPG) and slightly more rebounds (8.3 RPG) than Marcus this year, but arguably played smarter basketball. He averaged over one block per game, and his .589 shooting percentage was higher than his "better brother's", which was .570. He plays well in the paint both on offense and defense, and has a dangerous baby hook that will not often miss. Furthermore, the bigger twin's .424 3-point shooting percentage was significantly higher than Marcus's .342 percentage.

Let's be honest. There have been stronger draft classes. There are very few players in this year's draft that are actually expected to develop into bona fide NBA stars. However, that does not mean that some of the fresh young faces coming to each team will fail to someday become the faces of those teams. Players do not have to be superstars to earn love and respect from their teammates, coaches, and fans, and many of this year's first and second round picks will likely become the respected role players of the future... The P.J. Browns, Tony Allens, and James Poseys of the league. Neither Marcus nor Markieff Morris will likely be remembered as one of the greatest players of the generation. However, both of these guys are quality ball players with a lot of potential, and with some refinement and good coaching, they could easily become important pieces to winning organizations sometime in the near future.

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