Wizards

Wizards

It was not an easy conversation for Scott Brooks to have, but one he felt necessary to right the ship many perceive to be taking on a biblical amount of water.

Sensing both his starting lineup and bench were missing something, Brooks decided to move Markieff Morris to the second unit. On Monday, he approached Morris and gave him the news.

Whether Morris has embraced his new role or not is difficult to judge, but on Saturday against the Pelicans, he showed why Brooks thought it was the move to make.

Morris helped diversify the second unit's offense by scoring inside and out. He made two threes, he rolled of a screen for a dunk and he cashed in on several post opportunities.

Playing in the second unit, Brooks hopes, will open up Morris' offensive game. Instead of deferring to John Wall and Bradley Beal, he gets to be the focus.

“It helps us that we have a really good player in Markieff that has been a starter. He has been a 14, 15-point [per game] starter," Brooks said.

Though he came off the bench and played just under 28 minutes, Morris scored 15 points against New Orleans and tied a season-high with nine rebounds. He added two steals and a block.

Morris had eight points in the fourth quarter alone. Brooks rolled with the hot hand and showed what he often says, that just because a guy starts or doesn't start a game, doesn't mean that will directly correlate with how many minutes he plays.

 

Morris ended up logging more minutes than Kelly Oubre Jr. (22:50) and Thomas Bryant (16:29), the two guys who have essentially taken what could be his spot in the starting lineup.

Over the past three seasons, Morris has proven to be one of the Wizards' biggest X-factors. They are at their best when he plays well. Since he joined the Wizards, the team is 43-23 when he scores 15 points or more.

But for Morris, consistency is elusive. Too often he will play a step slow on defense and not rebound enough for his position. 

The lack of energy from Morris was partly why Brooks moved him to the bench. But against the Pelicans, the energy was there.

He seemed to be woken up by the matchup with Julius Randle, who dominated Bryant in the first quarter. Morris was able to equal him physically after Randle muscled his way to the rim over and over to start the game.

Morris is also simply getting more shots now that he's on the bench. With 12 field goal attempts on Saturday, he's put up double-digit shots in three straight games after a three-game stretch where he shot six or fewer.

It may take some time for Morris to fully come to terms with playing off the bench, as he has grown used to being a full-time starter and the fact he's in a contract year has to be considered.

But Saturday demonstrated how playing in the second unit could ultimately be good for Morris. And, as history has shown, what is good for Morris is usually good for the Wizards.

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