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Markieff Morris: Solid player but Suns still need great

The Phoenix Suns selected Kansas forward Markieff Morris with the 13th pick in the draft.

I tweeted about it, went and played some soccer and had dinner with friends. Then I went to sleep.

Upon waking up I came to a realization: I’m OK with the pick.

Though not a sexy pick, Morris certainly fills a need for a team that, honestly, had nothing when it came to the “power forward” position. At 6-9, 241 pounds Morris has the prototypical size and, based on his comments about Derrick Williams, confidence in his abilities.

He will fit in nicely, adding toughness, rebounding and defense to a team that lacks all three. Though not as flashy as the team’s last forward (let’s be honest, Hakim Warrick and Channing Frye aren’t power forwards), there is nothing wrong with someone who can contribute double-digit points and rebounds while holding his own on the defensive end.

“We’re a lot bigger, with one player, a lot stronger and a lot more dynamic just by adding one player to the lineup,” Suns GM Lance Blanks said of the Morris pick.

All that may be true and, while playing it safe with this selection isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is not likely to accomplish what the team — and many fans — think it will.

If the goal is to have a player who can “keep the window open,” the Suns are going to be pretty disappointed. Granted, that has less to do with what Morris can’t do, rather he is just not the type of player who will transform the Suns from aging lottery team to a contender. He is, however, a solid piece to the puzzle, someone who is going to have a nice career in the NBA when all is said and done. The Suns didn’t make a bad pick, because simply finding a contributor is a step up from many of their recent draft nights.

The problem lies in the fact that the Suns of June 24th still have the same big problem they had on June 22nd: a lack of a go-to scorer.

Now, I’m not saying one was available when the Suns picked 13th. Hell, I’m not even going to say they messed up a chance to get one. But if the Suns really plan on contending while Steve Nash is still under contract they will have to find one, because you can look up and down the roster as much as you’d like, but no matter how hard you try there won’t be anyone on that list who can score more than 17 points a game. And, while having a bunch of players who can put in 12 or more is nice, the Suns found out last year the value of having a go-to scorer, someone to turn to in crunch time for the biggest buckets of the game.

That guy probably wasn’t available at 13, unless you held a belief that Marcus Morris, Kawhi Leonard, Jordan Hamilton or any of the other players selected after Markieff could have filled that role. So, it’s not as if the Suns really messed this one up.

“This gives us an opportunity to lay our imprint on this organization and this team,” Blanks said. “Very excited to have the opportunity for the pick, but also a pick that reflects who we are and what we want to be about.”

By the time the draft ended the Phoenix Suns were a better team than before it started. They are better on the glass, better on defense and a little younger. The roster now lists a legitimate power forward who is just 21, meaning he has some room to improve. However, if most “experts” are to be believed, the Suns’ newest player is pretty close to his ceiling right now. That’s not bad.

But it’s also not great, and if the Suns want to contend again they’ll need just that.


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