The Flip Side: Anthony Morrow’s life after Golden State
Yesterday’s four-way trade saw just about every team involved walk away a winner. However, the effects of that trade are far more specific than just saying “This team got better,” or “This team accomplished its goals.” In The Flip Side, we’ll look at one player from each of the four teams -- the Nets, the Pacers, the Hornets, and the Rockets -- and how their career is impacted by the move in both the immediate and distant future.
The Golden State Warriors were good for Anthony Morrow. He was allowed to walk into the game cold and launch whatever shot struck his fancy. The attempts were there for Morrow and for everyone, and while Golden State had anything but a successful stint during Morrow’s two seasons there, on a personal level, he had a tremendously impressive showing.
While so many of his teammates -- from Monta Ellis to Stephen Jackson to Al Harrington and to plenty more -- racked up high-volume stats in Golden State’s fast and loose offensive “system,” Morrow did so while scoring efficiently. He only averaged 13.0 points per game in his final season with the Warriors, but he shot an absolutely tremendous 45.6% from three-point range. He was eighth in the league in effective field goal percentage last season, and a still impressive 19th in true shooting percentage. The statistical company Morrow keeps in those categories? Steve Nash, Ray Allen, and Chauncey Billups.
That’s the class of shooter that Morrow already finds himself in, even as a 24 year-old. He’s that deadly from mid-range and from the perimeter, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the pace of the Warriors’ system.
Now, Morrow will inherit most of the minutes left behind by Courtney Lee’s departure (and keep in mind that Chris Douglas-Roberts and Jarvis Hayes, who also played the 2 for the Nets last year, are now gone), and will have a chance to thrive in a more structured offense. There aren’t many players in this league who would turn to Avery Johnson as their offensive shaman, but at this stage Johnson and Don Nelson aren’t even comparable. One cares and the other doesn’t, and one will put Morrow in a position to succeed while the other rides out the end of his coaching career like the formality that it is.
Common sense tells you that when the game slows down, Morrow’s attempts will be less frequent and better defended. In some ways that’s true. Yet there are factors involved here that serve to balance the offensive culture shock. Brook Lopez’s presence may be the most significant, as having an effective interior big can give Morrow and his three-point shooting counterparts all the open air they need. Swapping Monta Ellis (he of the 29.4 usage rate) for Devin Harris doesn’t provide a huge change in point guard styles, but it’s enough of one to take note.
Plus, don’t underestimate the impact of having a coach whose teams show well in per-possession metrics. Nelson, despite his insistence on a complete dedication to the offensive end, has only coached a top-five offense once during his four years with the Warriors (in the other years, the Dubs were ranked 11th, ninth, and 14th in points per 100 possessions). Avery’s Mavs were in the top five during three of his four years in Dallas, including tops in the league in ’05-'06 and second in ’06-'07. Johnson’s club really hit rock bottom in ’07-'08, when they were eighth in the league in points per 100 possessions despite having a mid-season shakeup at point guard.
New Jersey is where Morrow’s career will really begin. He may have made a name (and some money) for himself by playing in Golden State, but with the Nets, Morrow has a chance to be a part of something real, even if it starts with a rebuild.