A lot has been made of the Lakers’ latest additions — Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith — since the NBA season restarted, and rightfully so: neither of them logged a single second for Los Angeles before the season was suspended, and they both have exuberant personalities. However, they’re not the only ones that are new to the team.
On Feb. 23 — 15 days before the NBA indefinitely suspended its season — the Lakers signed Markieff Morris for additional size and shooting in their front court. Since then, Morris has only appeared in 14 games for Los Angeles — six of which were played in the Orlando bubble.
In those 14 games, Morris hasn’t exactly been a breakout performer, with averages of 5.3 points per game on 40.6% shooting from the field, including 33.3% shooting from behind the arc. But he has shown potential, most recently in the Lakers’ game against the Sacramento Kings.
In that game, Morris scored 14 points while making four of his five 3-point attempts. The Lakers lost, but he looked as confident as he’s looked while wearing a Lakers uniform.
Morris’s newfound confidence has been a source of optimism for Lakers head coach Frank Vogel, who believes Morris has a lot to offer the team in the postseason.
“He’s a beast, and he’s someone that’s going to help us in the playoffs,” Vogel said on Thursday. “I think with him joining our team late in the restart, he’s been behind the eight ball a little bit with his legs and conditioning, and we’re trying to find him opportunities to get in rhythm. I think it’s been a slow stead buildup from the time he joined us up until this point today. It’s continuing to grow and I feel good about what he can bring to our team in the playoffs.”
It’s not secret that the Lakers had a hard time knocking down their 3-point shots in their seeding games, but if we’re to believe in the “law of averages” like everyone on the team does, it’s only a matter of time before Morris is a key contributor. In the 44 games Morris played before he was traded to the Lakers, he shot 39.7% from behind the arc on 4.3 attempts per game. For his career, he’s a 34.5% 3-point shooter.
It’s rare that a player of Morris’ caliber has to try and find his rhythm in a postseason setting, but that’s the situation he’s been in put in this season. Hopefully he can rise to the occasion and prove that Vogel’s optimism isn’t misplaced.