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Suns hope 13th pick proves lucky once again

One week from now the Suns will pick 13th in the 2012 NBA
Draft.

One year ago, the Suns– at 13, picked Kansas’ Markieff
Morris.

“He exceeded all expectations,” GM Lance Blanks said of
his rookie power forward. “The way he came in, ready to
play. He was in shape. Alvin (Gentry) did a great job of
inserting him into the system.”

Morris averaged 7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 0.7 blocks and
0.7 steals in 19.5 minutes per game this season while
shooting 39.9 percent from the field.

“I had an OK year,” he said.

“I started off real good,” Morris said. He did, even
earning a selection to the Rising Stars Challenge at NBA
All-Star Weekend in Orlando.

Morris surprised many with his 3-point shooting, hitting
better than 40 percent before the break.

Then “I think I hit the rookie wall towards the middle of
the season,” he said. “Just got tired halfway through the
season. Games were coming so fast and back-to-back and I
wasn’t used to that. Channing (Frye) told me early in the
season when you know you hit the rookie wall is when [you
think] you’re in cities that you know you’re not in.

“All in all, I think I did OK.”

Morris admitted he “had to learn quick” because of the
lockout, which he believes did affect him but “it’s still
not an excuse.”

He made seven starts as a rookie but struggled in that
role, averaging 4.1 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting
33 percent.

“Early in the season I was so used to playing with the
second unit,” he said. “Just at that time it was just hard
for me to fit. I was deferring to guys. I just thought it
was just better for the team (to come off the bench).

“I got one year under my belt now so if (the opportunity
to start) happens next year I’m definitely ready for it.”

The 22-year-old did not take much time off after the
season ended before he was back in the gym working on his
game. Morris has been a regular in both the weight room
(“I definitely need to get stronger”) and on the practice
court at US Airways Center.

“Markieff has shown that he has the ability to be a solid
power forward in this league,” the club’s director of
player personnel John Treloar said.

It was Treloar who flew to Philadelphia just prior to the
draft to meet with Morris and his family.

“Now,” Treloar continued, “it’s all about taking the
talent he has and developing that talent.”

An offseason of playing in the NBA Summer League,
something the lockout prevented him from doing last year,
can only help.

The Suns, according to Blanks, are hoping Morris “can
impact this roster next year. Part of that will be on him
and part of that will be on us.”