We are twenty-one games into the season and the Celtics’ play so far this season has raised an endless amount of questions. Everything under the sun has been written about the starting five not playing up to their expectations. What is being missed, however, is the quality contributors to this team who have made a major impact.
Marcus Morris has been on a tear to begin this season, and I have written before about how he has become an unsung hero on this team. He is shooting 48.8% from the field and 43.2% from three. Even with these superb shooting percentages, Marcus Morris affects the game in more ways than just scoring.
Coach Stevens says he wants tougher mindset in all of his players and you can find this in Morris. Starting with the intangibles alone, he just brings the grit and determination to give it all on each possession. It is exactly why he has found himself in the starting lineup the past three games. In this starting role, he has averaged 13.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. Not to mention, the Celtics have won two of the past three with Morris as a starter.
The Celtics last game against the Pelicans was a great instance of where Morris made a huge impact outside of strictly scoring. Included with his 19 points, he added 11 rebounds and 3 assists. More importantly, four of those rebounds were offensive keeping the possession alive.
Here, we see one of those offensive boards where he gets one of his misses and puts it back up and in. It is the type of play you come to expect from Marcus Morris. This seems very fundamental, but not at all players do this. It is the type of play that looks easy because we take it for granted. Julius Randle goes to block the shot but then gets lazy on the rebounding. Marcus Morris shows us here that with a little bit of extra hustle, he can turn a missed jumper into an offensive rebound and easy put back for two.
This other clip is one of the best plays of the night from Morris. He dribbles in and drives against Nikola Mirotic beating him to the paint which then draws over Julius Randle who was guarding Aron Baynes. Morris knows to then make the extra pass to Baynes. Unfortunatley, Baynes can not finish, but Morris wisely keeps position and boxes out to gather the miss. He then has an easy offensive rebound and put back.
Both of these rebounding techniques we have seen all year from Morris. He excels at getting to the correct position to put himself in the play. It is this high basketball IQ play that will not show up in the box score.
This impact does not only come on the offensive side of the ball. His defensive instincts have contributed to the best defense in the league as well. This can come as a starter or off the bench.
Here, in the Atlanta game, he shows off great athleticism and instincts shooting over from the paint to the passing lane at the top of the key. This creates a fantastic steal which leads to a Celtics fast break. Morris has that quick jump on the ball having a sense of where it is headed next. Again, it is something that can not be taken for granted in the league.
Finally, Marcus Morris has high intensity and basketball smarts which are also contagious to others on the court. Stevens has seen his team play better with Morris in the lineup, so he looked for a change to the starting five. It was well documented that Stevens “won’t be settled on a starting lineup until forever.” This means Morris can keep his minutes up either in the starting five or again off the bench, being whatever spark the offense or defense needs at any time.
Morris has shown he can help this team in other ways than just his high shooting percentages. He has the talent to put up numbers which impress on a nightly basis. Most importantly, Marcus Morris carries the intangibles that go a long way beyond the box score. He impacts what matters most: wins.