In February, after the trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers signed Markieff Morris despite the fact that they already had plenty of depth at the 4 spot with Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma and Jared Dudley. The two most likely motivating factors behind that decision were Morris’s shooting ability (Morris shot 39.7% from behind the arc in 44 games for the Detroit Pistons) and his ability to play the 5 in small-ball lineups.
The Lakers have enjoyed success with their two-center rotation of JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard this season, but there are teams that they haven’t been able to do that against as successfully, like the Houston Rockets. In those situations, Morris is someone that can play the 5, or the 4 next to Davis.
Unfortunately, Morris wasn’t able to make impact against the Rockets on Friday. In 9:10, Morris failed to record a point, assist, rebound, steal or block, and he posted a plus-minus of -10. Going forward, Morris wants to make a conscious effort to be better.
“Me personally, I’ve got to bring the energy when I come off the bench,” Morris said. “Be a dog out there. I mean they’ve got a lot of dogs out there, but we can match them any time they’re on the floor.”
If Morris can’t match the Rockets’ energy, the Lakers have another option on the bench they can turn to in Dudley. Dudley played a valuable role for the Brooklyn Nets in the postseason last year and is a better shooter than Morris. Frank Vogel could also see what he has in Devontae Cacok, who was a double-double machine in the G League this season.
Morris has had a successful career as a role player, but he hasn’t played his role well enough to be irreplaceable. Hopefully that changes in Game 2.