Washington Wizards: Revamping the Sibling Rivalry Between the Morris Twins

AUBURN HILLS, MI - JANUARY 21: Markieff Morris
AUBURN HILLS, MI - JANUARY 21: Markieff Morris /

The Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics’s rivalry will be center stage for the world to see next season. Although this match-up will feature a lot of new faces, the two teams might be more identical than previously thought. Subsequently, the identical nature won’t come from their play styles, but rather a pair of brothers who know a thing or two about being identical.

Hailing from the city of Philadelphia, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris, or better known as the Morris twins, have been accustomed to being together their whole lives. Growing up, the Morris twins gravitated towards football before they were quickly pointed into the direction of basketball by Dan Brinkley, the head basketball coach of Prep Charter high school from 2005-11 in Philadelphia.

From there, it didn’t take them long to find their stride on the court, as their chemistry, athleticism, and competitive nature proved to be far superior to their competition. As a result, Prep Charter high school came back from a 15-point deficit against Aliquippa high school to win the 2007 AA state championship and that was thanks in large part to the Morris twins.

The next challenge they faced together was college basketball, where they both attended Kansas University and played under head coach Bill Self. At Kansas, the twins started slow but showed why they were ready for the next level in their junior seasons.

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Marcus Morris was named Big 12 Player of the Year by averaging 17.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, and shoot 57 percent from the floor and brother Markieff wasn’t too far behind, as he averaged 13.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, shot 58.9 percent from the floor and 42.4 percent from three.

After that the Morris brothers declared for the 2011 NBA Draft and what happened next couldn’t have been scripted any better. With the 13th pick, the Phoenix Suns selected Markieff and just minutes later, similar to their birth, Marcus was selected 14th overall by the Houston Rockets.

This marked the first time the two brothers had played on separate teams and against each other for that matter. However, the separation only lasted for a total of one and half seasons, as Marcus was traded to the Suns and reunited with his brother during the 2012 NBA season.

In Phoenix, the two brothers steadily progressed as players and their close bond once again can be credited to their success and improvement. Unfortunately, the fairy tale of the twins staying together was ended abruptly.

The Suns traded away Marcus to the Detroit Pistons in efforts to free up cap space to land LaMarcus Aldridge during the 2015 free agency period. Shortly after, Markieff voiced his displeasure with the franchise for the way they handled trading his brother away before he was ultimately traded to the Washington Wizards during the 2015 NBA season.

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In hindsight, the way the Morris’ left Phoenix wasn’t a very pretty way to go, to say the least; however, the brothers benefited from the changing of scenery and were able to form their own identities while still keeping their similarities in the process.

In Washington, Markieff is a vital and underrated part of the Wizards’ offense that was among the NBA’s best. His size and long frame allow him to guard both the power forward position and at times the small forward position. Unlike his brother, Markieff is a much more established player down low and has a much slower play style.

Below, Markieff can be seen catching the ball at the three point line, giving the defender a slow move and finding his way to the basket for the layup. Although he isn’t the quickest, Markieff manages to find his own shots with his slower play style.

In Detroit, Marcus was a very underrated player for the Pistons last season and that could be because of their lackluster season as a team. However, Marcus is much more perimeter oriented than his brother. Along with being more perimeter oriented, Marcus also has a better handle and poses a much bigger threat in off the dribble scenarios.

In this clip, Marcus displays his handle by sizing up a great defender in Jae Crowder, going between his legs twice, quickly crossing over to his right and attacking the basket for the layup.

Subsequently, the Morris’ have their few differences but at the end of the day, the two are still almost as identical in the statistical categories as they are in person. According to Basketball-Reference, the two brothers put together very similar 2016-17 seasons for their respective teams.

Conversely, the question next up is which Morris is better? At the moment, I think it’s fair to give the nod to Markieff right now. Although he’s not the fleetest of foot, Markieff is a daunting force in the paint, gives you the capability to spread the floor, can be a very tough defender and is active on the glass.

Markieff’s impact is often not talked about because of the skilled backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal but he’s just as much apart of their young core than anyone. His impact during the playoffs was more than evident. Whether it was helping the Wizards win the rebounding advantage, giving All-Star Paul Millsap trouble on both ends, Markieff’s impact was huge for the Wizards.

However, Marcus has continued to trend in the right direction since leaving the Suns. While he hasn’t gotten the same publicity as his brother, Marcus has the ability to challenge his brother in the near future. I believe with a bigger role, which Marcus will have on the Celtics, he will start to turn more heads on a more competitive team.

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So what does all this mean? Well, the Morris twins have had an incredible road to where they are today in their careers. We’ve seen the two players practically attached at the hip for the majority of their lives and rightfully so. Despite this, the one thing we haven’t seen on a wider scale is routine head-to-head matchups between the twins.

To elaborate, the Morris’ will now be entering a phase in their lives and playing careers that will be a bit abnormal to them. They will be at the forefront of a newfound heated rivalry between the Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics.

We are just a few months removed from the conspiracy theory of the Morris twins switching places during the Wizards-Celtics series, and now they’ll be matching up against each other in four nationally televised games and potentially a playoff series against each other. It’s a very compelling matchup, to say the least.

If you needed some examples of their very few matchups against each other, the first clip comes from this past season. With the game on the line, Marcus gets the game-winning tip-in on Detroit’s third and final effort over Markieff at the buzzer.

However, Markieff got his brother back with an emphatic block on a fastbreak layup attempt that sent Marcus to the ground in a game at the Verizon Center.

In a rivalry that will now feature the ever so exhausting John Wall and Kyrie Irving debate, the Morris twins bring a compelling side storyline that is unique in its nature

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In short, the Morris’ will be entering the newest stage of their lives as twins and we’ll have the best seats in the house to watch it all unfold this upcoming season. Two twin brothers from the city of brotherly love facing off on the national stage, it doesn’t get much better than that.