LeBron James has ruled the Eastern Conference for the past seven seasons. However, he is getting older, and the Eastern Conference has always been a bit weak compared to the West, to put it politely. Going into next season, there are two decent teams out East that have a glaring flaw. And both of those flaws will show up in the box score as "M. Morris."
Will Marcus Morris Ruin the Celtics?
The Celtics offseason was a mixed bag. While we think the Gordon Hayward was a great move, they royally messed up the Kyrie Irving trade. But, ironically, another trade may hurt them worse. The Celtics traded Avery Bradley for Marcus Morris. And, candidly, playing Marcus Smart instead of Avery Bradley will likely work out fine. However, Marcus Morris could hurt. Let's break down the Celtics starting five last season and this season, and compare their numbers.
|Position||2017 Player||2017 ADJP48||2018 Player||2017 ADJP48||Difference|
|PG||Isaiah Thomas||0.323||Kyrie Irving||0.247||-0.076|
|SG||Avery Bradley||0.215||Marcus Smart||0.199||-0.016|
|SF||Jae Crowder||0.309||Gordon Hayward||0.322||0.013|
|PF||Amir Johnson||0.373||Marcus Morris||0.162||-0.211|
|C||Al Horford||0.353||Al Horford||0.353||0.00|
As a note, I used players ADJP48, which is their position unadjusted numbers here. It's not a perfect comparison but I used them as the Celtics are moving players around, potentially.
Point Guard: Push (generously) Isaiah Thomas had a pretty outlier-ish season. Kyrie Irving is pretty good and younger. If we are optimistic, the Celtics basically stayed the same at point guard (compared to last season). Again, being ultra-generous here.
Shooting Guard: Push. Avery Bradley also had an outlier-ish season last year. Marcus Smart is still young and possibly improving. The Celtics didn't lose any ground here.
Small Forward: Improved (although not as much as people think) Gordon Hayward played star level last season. The thing is, Jae Crowder was pretty good himself. Jae Crowder's numbers do get a boost from the fact he played some power forward last season as well. Regardless, the Celtics did improve at the wing. Although, as they could have kept both Crowder and Gordon Hayward, that's not saying much.
Power Forward: Declined, by a lot. Marcus Morris has never been a great player. And every year he's played at the power forward, he's looked awful. Last year, as a small forward, he was bad, but not terrible. If the Celtics are genuinely going to play him at the four, then their roster got much much worse.
Center: Push, kinda. Broken record time. As a young player, Al Horford looked promising. Then he got injured. He came back and was still productive, but not at the same level he was before. Now he's over thirty, and his numbers have been steadily declining the past few seasons. It's possible he holds next year, but I don't like betting against Father Time.
It's likely the Celtics starting five has four above average players. And if you want to be optimistic, they may have two star-level players in Irving and Hayward. The problem they have is they replaced a good role player in Amir Johnson with a horrible player in Marcus Morris. If the Celtics lag in the Eastern Conference next season, I will not be shocked if their Achilles Heal is Marcus Morris.
Will Markieff Morris Ruin the Wizards ... Again?
Here's a rundown of the Wizards starting five and their numbers last season.
The Wizards have a habit of making us look silly. We thought John Wall was a bad re-signing. He's turned into a great point guard. We thought Bradley Beal was the worst contract in the NBA. While he's overpaid, he managed to play well last season. In addition to that, they have Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat, both players we like, who played well last season.
Then there's Markieff Morris. Here's some simple math. Had the Wizards employed an average player at power forward, who played as many minutes as Markieff Morris, they would have won five more games. Last season the Wizards won 49 games. Had they won 54 games, they would have won the East. They would have also had home court against the Celtics, who they lost to in seven games in the playoffs!
If the Wizards insist on keeping Markieff Morris as a part of their starting rotation, they too will be held back a step.
I find it a bit remarkable how two teams near the top of the East follow a very similar pattern. Both have a star small forward next to a good point guard. Both have an above average shooting guard. Both have a productive but aging center (Gortat turns 33 next season). And on paper that makes both teams look strong. However, inexplicably, both teams employ a pretty horrendous power forward. And I, for one, find it amusing they both share the same initials and birthday. We'll see if either the Celtics or Wizards correct their mistake before it costs them next season.