BOSTON – A year ago this time, the Celtics had no idea what they were going to get out of Marcus Morris.
The 6-foot-9 forward arrived late to camp after he and his twin brother Markieff were both acquitted of assault charges stemming from an incident in Phoenix in 2015.
And soon after he showed up, Marcus was bothered by knee soreness that would limit his availability and in doing so, his overall effectiveness.
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That's in the past now.
The Marcus Morris that will step on the court for the team’s first practice on Sept. 25 is in a much better place than he was a year ago this time.
But what’s a realistic expectation from the veteran forward, who, like a number of his teammates, will be a free agent in the summer of 2019?
To see Marcus Morris begin last season out with an injury was unusual. Morris missed 28 games last season for the Celtics. In the previous four seasons, Morris missed a total of just six games. That’s why fans shouldn’t be overly concerned about his health heading into this season. His track record makes it quite obvious that what he experienced last season was out of the ordinary.
When it comes to having a voice in the locker room, Morris’ role along those lines was very underrated last season. The time he spent with rookie Jayson Tatum would prove invaluable to the rookie withstanding the ups and downs that come about with that first season in the league. He was a voice of reason for others, but the bond he formed with Tatum alone said volumes about his impact in what was a very low-key manner.
PLAY WITH PACE
When you think about good pacesetters on this team, Marcus Morris probably isn’t one of the first names that come to mind. And yet the pace that he played with, was really good relative to the rest of the Celtics. NBA.com/stats shows Morris’ pace was 99.31 which was tops among all Celtics players who logged at least 20 minutes of action per game. It was also a career-high in terms of pace for the 29-year-old. With most of the guys back from last season, there’s a greater familiarity among the players from Day One. You can count Morris among those who should benefit from this.
With his size, strength and toughness, it’s no surprise that Morris was one of the team’s better rebounders when you crunch the numbers. Morris had a defensive rebounding percentage of .189 which among regulars on the roster, trailed Aron Baynes (.217), Daniel Theis (.216) and Al Horford (.197). While his role may be more limited in terms of playing time, he can still make his mark on the game by continuing to do some of the things he did well last season – rebounding the ball for example.
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