Washington Wizards: Markieff Morris Will Have A Career Season In 2017

Apr 10, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris (5) shoots the ball over Charlotte Hornets forward Marvin Williams (2) in the third quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 113-98. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris (5) shoots the ball over Charlotte Hornets forward Marvin Williams (2) in the third quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 113-98. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Washington Wizards big man, Markieff Morris, has flown under the radar, but he could have a breakout season in D.C.

There have been questions and comments made about four of the Washington Wizards‘ starting five this off-season.

Can superstar John Wall report to training camp in shape?

Can Bradley Beal finally break through and play up to that max contract he just signed?

Can Otto Porter be counted on to finally play at a level that a third overall pick should be playing at?

Since the Wizards signed Ian Mahinmi to a big contract, is Marcin Gortat expendable and on his way out?

The only position that no one has really talked about this off-season has been the power forward spot, which is currently manned by Markieff Morris.

While the Washington Wizards will be operating from the standpoint that the backcourt of Wall and Beal will be the leaders and focal point of the team, Morris’ role as a mobile big man that can shoot the three has the potential to have just as much of an impact for the Wizards next season.

When Morris is firing on all cylinders, he can remind you of a young, former Bullets player Rasheed Wallace.

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Similar to Wallace, Morris can be super fiery and plays with a controlled chaos that the fans in the Verizon Center have already embraced in his short time with the team.

Morris will have the benefit of a full training camp and will get to find a comfort level in running with arguably the best open court passer in the NBA.

Virtually everyone who’s shared the court with Wall has seen their stats improve substantially.

With Wall being the best passing point guard that he has ever played with, like a few of the players that have come before him, Morris will have plenty of opportunities to post big numbers this year as the starting power forward.

The Wizards brass’ had veterans Marcin Gortat and former Wizard Jared Dudley vouch for Morris and his character from their time playing alongside him in Phoenix.

In his short time in D.C., we were able to view Morris from a drama-free perspective. That finally gave everyone a chance to take a look at Morris just from a basketball point of view and not his infamous antics.

Morris eventually became the starter at power forward (over Nene and Dudley) and the Washington Wizards had a two-way big man in the power forward spot that they didn’t have before his arrival.

Nene was a good defender and passer, but couldn’t stretch the defense with his shooting.

Dudley was an excellent 3-point shooter but would be overmatched in the post on the defensive end.

Morris provided both good defense and a jump shot that solid enough that the defensive had to play him on the perimeter.

However, Morris wasn’t without his faults.

He still got into early trouble with bad fouls and would often fall in love with the three even when his shot wasn’t falling. These are both correctable things that Morris can work on and get better as he becomes more comfortable with his teammates.

A lot of how Morris is going to be used falls on new head coach Scott Brooks.

Brooks, the former head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, has had similar talent during his time in OKC with Wall playing a Russell Westbrook-like role at point guard and Morris filling in as a Serge Ibaka-like big man that can shoot, rebound and get out on the break with Wall.

One of the first things Brooks mentioned in his introductory press conference was that he and his staff would look to have a game plan that correctly utilizes Wall, Beal and the rest of the Wizards.

This should bode well for a player like Morris.

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The current  Washington Wizards squad has only known the outdated offensive and defensive strategy of former head coach Randy Wittman, which started to stagnate and become predictable during the end of his time with the team.

It sounds and looks good, but it will be a challenge for Brooks to break the current Wizards of their bad habits they were use to having under Wittman.

As part of their free agent signings this summer, the Wizards signed three big men to contracts, but none are expected to take away any minutes or opportunities from Morris.

Ian Mahinmi is a defensive center with limited offensive skills, while Andrew Nicholson and Jason Smith were both signed with the intention of them being backups to Morris and in some smaller lineups, coming into the game for Gortat.

The loss of Nene cannot be understated for the Morris and the Washington Wizards.

While Morris is younger and more athletic than Nene, Morris will have to learn how to play better team defense and be smart about certain situations.

During the Wizards’ previous two years, when they advanced past the first round in the NBA Playoffs, they were a top-10 defensive team with Nene in the middle making decisions.

This past season, the Wizards got away from the defensive mindset by trying to play small ball and it cost them.

Morris has a chance to be one of the better power forwards in the Eastern Conference for the Washington Wizards.

Next: Should the Wizards Trade Gortat?

Not many teams in the East have a power forward that can bang down low and shoot from the outside. It will now be interesting to see what role Morris is going to play under the new Brooks regime. All signs point to Morris having the best season of his career in D.C.