One of the players with the most potential looking forward, Darius Morris stepped up on multiple occasions in the Lakers’ tumultuous season. Leading the team in points and assists in their winless Summer League, his regular season production was not as significant, forcing him to be dropped down to the D-Fenders on multiple occasions. His ability to bounce back and find ways to produce while lacking minutes is a positive outlook on what this young kid has to offer for the future.
Regular Season Grade: B
Morris had a combative season on and off of the floor, fighting for positions in multiple areas. Being dropped down to the D-League twice in the season, he found himself competing with both Duhon and Meeks for playing time. The playing time fluctuated throughout the season, as whenever Blake or Nash sat out, all three had to compete for not only the starting role but also second string. Morris was beaten out by Duhon and Meeks multiple times, and was dropped to the D-League twice in the season, both times for no more than three days.
In such a difficult season to produce and make an impact, Morris had a pretty solid year considering. After a spectacular performance in Las Vegas in the summer, there were glimpses of greatness, including a 10 point, five rebound performance to solidify a 101-77 victory over Golden State in November. In that situation, with Nash injured, Morris easily filled in behind Blake, and it effectively worked offensively. Offense isn’t the only thing this young guard excelled at during the season however, as Morris was designated to cover quick-paced perimeter shooters on multiple occasions, especially in games where Metta World Peace was absent. Kobe Bryant even gave the up and coming PG kudos on his defensive efforts multiple times in the season.
Morris also displayed the ability to roll with what he was offered throughout the season, not only coming back from the lower league numerous times, but also sliding into whatever position D’Antoni seemed necessary. In the small glimpse of time where World Peace wasn’t producing and was needed to come off of the bench, Morris shined as a starter until Metta returned in early January. Flexibility on the floor is a key factor in order to gain minutes, and this ability is definitely something the Lakers needed in a season where every position on the floor faced an injury crisis at one point or another.
Playoff Grade: C
Stepping into the slot for an injured Steve Blake at the last minute for both Game 3 and Game 4 provided Morris with an opportunity to prove himself as a good draft selection, and in the given circumstances, he did just that. Game 3 was definitely a better night for the guard, but there were little positives coming from any Laker in Game 4, where Morris shot a horrendous 3-12 from the field in L.A.’s 103-82 loss, and eventual dismissal from the Playoffs. In Game 3, Morris had a huge 23 points paired with six assists.
Working on consistency in the later stretch of the season will definitely be important for Morris in the upcoming seasons, as a Game 4 flop practically kicked the Lakers while they were already down. Despite filling in different positions on the floor during the season, Morris was able to play his most comfortable guard role in the playoffs, and didn’t produce as well as he did during the summer. In light of the circumstances, being thrown in a mix of injured players and up against some of the most decorated opponents in the NBA, Morris had an average showing, thus the average grade.
Overall Grade: B-
This grade is purely based on potential as well as what Morris has already proven, taking note that there is a lot of time for him to work out the kinks he displayed this season. Three-point shooting and decision making are two of his main flaws, while ball handling could improve as well, as he gave away 45 turnovers in 48 games played.
Confidence is also something the guard is lacking, which was displayed in Game 4 versus San Antonio as well. Realistically, however, it’s difficult to keep your head up, knees bent and shots on target when all of your key playmakers are out, and you’re being handed defeat. A large part of Morris’ game comes from the players that he is surrounded by, as this guy feeds off of positive vibes, including those that were coming off of a healthy Steve Blake and a hungry Kobe Bryant. Also, if Andrew Goudelock continues to improve, Morris could find himself not only competing with but playing alongside the “Mini Mamba” as well. This could allow Morris to not focus so much on the shooting from beyond the arc that he isn’t very successful with, as Goudelock fills that void easily.
It will be exciting to see if this guy can live up to expectations moving forward. He has a lot to offer, and if he sticks around in Los Angeles, could find himself as a key player in the next six years after some of the older athletes have hung up their shoes.