Markieff Morris is just as amused as the rest of us when it comes to parallels between him and his twin brother, Marcus -- stuff that he likes to refer to as "twin s---." They played together at every level, including the NBA, before they were split up by trades from the Phoenix Suns. Yet the same things always seem to happen to them.
This year has been no exception, as Markieff has followed a similar path with the Wizards as Marcus has with his Celtics. Like Marcus, Markieff was moved to the bench and happens to be enjoying a good deal of success in his new role.
Marcus was the first to go from starter to reserve. He played mostly off the bench last season and then in his first 17 games this year before getting bumped back to the starting lineup.
Marcus thrived with the second unit in Boston and that success showed Markieff a blueprint. After all, it's easy to visualize yourself doing something when you have an identical twin who did it first.
"S--- happens. I mean, it's crazy how that switch happened," Markieff said. "Watching my brother and the success he had off the bench kind of helps me also, seeing [him] come off the bench after being a starter for a long time."
Wizard head coach Scott Brooks made the change before the team's Nov. 20 match-up with the Clippers. Markieff was moved to the bench and at the time was replaced by Kelly Oubre Jr.
In the 10 games since, of which the Wizards have won six, Markieff has put up improved numbers. He is scoring more, getting more rebounds and shooting more efficiently:
Markieff as starter (15 G) - 9.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 43.0 FG%, 34.0 3PT%, 103 off. rating
Markieff as reserve (10 G) - 15.0 ppg, 6.6rpg, 46.3 FG%, 36.8 3PT%, 109 off. rating
Markieff is even playing more minutes. He's averaging 28.3 off the bench compared to 25.1 as a starter. Brooks is trusting him more to finish games. When he was starting, Markieff averaged 6.3 minutes in the fourth, but as a reserve, he leads the team with 9.9 minutes on average in the final frame.
Markieff explained his success off the bench in part based simply on the competition being different. He's used to going up against the best frontcourt players each team can offer. Now, he's facing their back-ups.
"I'm playing against second unit guys, so the game is easier," he said.
But Markieff sees other advantages from the switch, ones that Brooks was aiming for when he first explained the move. Markieff gets to take more shots now. He is the most reliable scorer on the Wizards' bench and, because of that, is getting more looks.
Markieff is averaging 12.3 shots as a bench player compared with 8.1. But, as he explained, it's more than just the attempts.
"It's me being involved in the offense more. It's the ball touching my hands a lot more in the second unit. I'm finding guys and scoring the ball. I've always got a rhythm," Markieff said.
"Obviously, the first two options are John [Wall] and Brad [Beal]. They demand a lot of the offense in the first unit. We just need some structure in the second unit, a go-to scorer, a guy that is basically myself that structure the offense better."
Markieff has also noticed an advantage in beginning the game off the bench. He can watch how the opposing team is defending the Wizards on a given night. He can see how they are switching, whether they are helping on post touches and what they are trying to take away on pick-and-rolls. By the time Markieff hits the floor, he knows what to expect.
All of that worked for Marcus in Boston, so, sure enough, it is the case for Markieff in Washington.
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