I wanted to know more about the Celtics newest additions coming over from the Detroit Pistons and I know that bloggers always know their team the best, so of course I turned to the fine folks at Detroit Bad Boys for a scouting report on Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes. Here are some questions I sent over and what Steve Hinson (of DBB) provided as answers. (Many thanks to Steve.)
1. Since we just faced off against the Wizards, we got a taste for Markieff Morris's versatility and competitive spirit. Obviously they are different people, but is that a good starting point for understanding his brother Marcus and what he brings to the table?
Absolutely. On the versatility front, Marcus was actually the Pistons’ best perimeter defender last season - yes, better than Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. But he’s a guy you absolutely want matching up with some of the bigger scorers on the wing around the league. Perhaps one of the best moments of the season for Morris was when he helped the Pistons finish off a nice comeback win against the Raptors by shutting down DeMar DeRozan with some brilliant isolation defense. Be sure to check out his reaction at the end.
Sure, the league said it was a foul the next day. But whatever. That was awesome.
When the Pistons came out flat against the Cavs late in the season, falling behind 27-12 early, before Stan Van Gundy could unload on the players Mook stopped him with “I got this.” Tobias Harris said he’d have to take Morris to church with him that week for some his word choice, but the Pistons pulled off the win.
Sometimes that versatility and competitive spirit gets a little annoying though. Morris was the ringleader for a players-only meeting in December that was of questionable productivity, accomplishing little more than throwing Reggie Jackson under the bus. And his isolation midrange game is handy as a bailout late in the shot clock, but he tends to fall back to it too often. Marcus Morris probably shouldn’t be 17th in the league in field goal attempts out of isolation opportunities, you know?
2. We desperately need rebounding help. Baynes seems like he could help but Morris isn't billed as much of a rebounder. Is that accurate? Also, please explain the Drummond-effect and let us know if you think it is relevant to understanding their rebounding potential on the Celtics.
Yep, that’s accurate. Baynes can be frustrating as a rebounder thanks to some lobster claw hands, but he’s tough and goes about the game the right way. He grabs a reasonable number of boards on his own, but he’ll also seal off the other guy and make rebounding easier for the other guys on the floor. He’s that guy at the gym you hate playing against. But still, he has some physical limitations (lack of athleticism, limited wingspan, bad hands) that does make it so that his team can get beat up on the boards at times.
Morris isn’t as physical of a player as you’d expect from a player with a reputation as a tough guy, and that goes to pretty much every aspect of his game including rebounding.
There’s definitely an impact on playing alongside Drummond and there are certainly some interesting numbers with his rebounding. One of those is his on/off figure, that the Pistons were a better rebounding with Drummond on the bench. That probably speaks more for Baynes than it does Drummond. But Dre does probably cannibalize some rebounding opportunities. Both Jon Leuer and Tobias Harris split time starting at power forward last season. Harris averaged an extra 1.5 rebounds per 36 minutes when he was coming off the bench and Leuer had nearly 2 more rebounds per 36 minutes off the bench.
Still, I wouldn’t expect that to mean Morris is going to be any kind of a solution for the rebounding woes. He’ll probably have a bump up from his 7.7 rebounding percentage in Detroit, but Drummond wasn’t entirely the culprit for Morris’ lousy rebounding numbers.
3. Let's talk defense now. Morris seems like a big, mobile body that we can throw at LeBron in hopes of at least making his path to the hoop a little more difficult. Baynes seems like a guy that won't block many shots but defends the paint reasonably well. What else do we need to know?
Again correct. Morris does a really nice job of turning guys into jump shooters. There was one game in particular last season where he and Carmelo Anthony were battling on both sides, but he was just making Melo miserable. Anthony still got his points, but they weren’t easy. Here’s the video from that game, it’s worth a watch to get a sense of how Morris defends.
Aron Baynes was fourth in the league among centers in defended field goal percentage differential last year. He was a dang good defensive player for us last year. He plays hard, tough, communicates on the floor, but what he really does well is gets vertical. The dude’s a brick wall, so opposing players get into him and can’t get over him. He’s not your traditional rim protector from a shot blocking perspective, but he still protects the rim.
4. The Morris brothers have a court trial coming up soon. Separately, Markieff Morris made his displeasure with the Suns known when they traded away Marcus and effectively forced his way out of Phoenix. I don't mean to keep lumping Marcus in with Markieff, but is this anything to be worried about? Is Marcus going to be good for a locker room?
By and large, Marcus is a great locker room guy. I think he typically has good intentions and is the type of guy where if you’re wearing the same uniform as him, he has your back. I personally enjoy players who go to work with a chip on their shoulder out there and it seems like your team is full of them. He should fit right in. Dang it, don’t make me like the Celtics.
A lot of us Pistons fans wrung our hands about the assault case against him and Markieff, but it never was an issue during his time in Detroit.
5. Anything else I should know about Morris and Baynes?
While they’re both primarily positive players, there’s a reason the Pistons were willing to let them go.
Morris had become a marriage of convenience for the Pistons. Only one player in the league had started as many games over the past two seasons with fewer win shares to show for it. He’s also a sneakily high volume and inefficient shooter. He had the second lowest true shooting percentage in the league of any player with more than 1,000 field goal attempts.
Maybe the problem was the Pistons offense, because he was good at what he’s supposed to be good at: those midrange isolations and in the catch and shoot. He was in the 90th percentile in the league in isolations and had a 55 percent effective field goal percentage. It seemed like those two things were all he really did. So how’d he manage a 50 percent true shooting percentage? Heck if I know. Dude was sneaky inefficient.
And Baynes has his limitations. There were plenty of Pistons fans who just really disliked the guy. He’s generally a positive contributor on the court, but there are definitely stretches when he’s out there where the offense sputters or it seems like the team just can’t get a rebound.
But so long as he’s playing alongside some playmakers on offense like Isaiah Thomas or Gordon Hayward and some guys who can at least contribute on the boards, it should be fine.
And sheesh, Thomas and Hayward are going to love his screens.