The key to the 2014-2015 Suns is keeping Markieff Morris and Gerald Green on the team.
The key to the 2014-2015 Suns is keeping Markieff Morris and Gerald Green on the bench.
Whenever the Suns play a team below .500, Markieff Morris averages fewer points, shoots a lower percentage and has fewer rebounds. Whenever the Suns play a team that is below .500, Gerald Green averages fewer points, shoots a lower percentage and has fewer rebounds.
Both players have made enormous strides in their careers this season. Without them, the Suns are drastically closer to hosting potential No. 1 draft picks than hosting No. 1 seeds.
Green and Morris create nightmare matchups for opposing coaches when they come off the bench. No coach is going to sit their best defender waiting for Green to come off the bench. Therefore, Green comes in against a weaker defender or a tired good one. The same point can be made for Morris, who might struggle to rebound against starting bigs but consistently out-boards other fours who come off the opposing bench.
The reason why I don't want them as starters is because they aren't motivated like P.J. Tucker. You can clearly see a difference in their play against weak teams and strong teams. If you're only motivated to simply out-play the man guarding you, you bring more intensity against tougher teams. You also know you can get by with going through the motions against whatever weak player the Cavs, Lakers or Pelicans send out to guard you.
P.J. Tucker is motivated by a hatred of losing. He'll help on defense and stay engaged throughout an entire defensive trip down the floor. Since he's motivated by winning, Tucker isn't affected by the competition. He can't play down to the competition. He does whatever it takes to win. When you give everything every night, the competition doesn't matter.
This is not a beat down of Green and Morris. It's the reality of who they are. The stats back it up. I don't think your competitive fire improves with age. You either have it or you don't. The Suns would never have earned their big wins this year without what Green and Morris did in those games. The Suns need them to be a major part of their future going forward. The Suns also can't make them starters if Green and Morris need opposing jerseys to help them bring their passion.
I'm completely sold on the importance of Markieff Morris and Gerald Green to the Phoenix Suns. They just have to sell out every game to become starters.