Lakers guard Darius Morris will become a restricted free agent on Sunday,… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
This is the 15th in a series of posts grading the Lakers on the 2011-12 season.
Player: Darius Morris, Lakers guard
How he performed: 2.4 points on 42.9% shooting and 44.4% shooting from three-point range, 1.1 assists and one turnover in 8.9 minutes per game in the regular season; 2.5 points, .8 assists and .2 turnovers game in two minutes per game in the post-season.
The good: Even with playing on a veteran-laden team, Morris never lacked for confidence. At times, that became a weakness. But that trait, along with his determined work ethic, will also help him become a good NBA player. Morris showed that mind set in the Lakers' first pre-season game when he scored 11 points. When Morris was moved into the backup point-guard spot because of Steve Blake's rib/sternum injury in early January, he looked more than comfortable both in finding his shot and facilitating. Toward the tail end of the season, Morris appeared to temper his tendency in trying to treat rare playing time as an opportunity to showcase his athleticism and ball-handling. To cap it off, he entertained Lakers crowds with a magnificent buzzer-beating halfcourt shot in a regular-season game against the Clippers.
The bad: Even with his potential, the stats don't lie. The Lakers' efficiency suffered with him on the floor. Sometimes he appeared foolish, such as waving Pau Gasol off on a switch to guard Chris Paul one-on-one before getting beaten to the basket. In his seven-game stint during Blake's absence, Morris went from passing up open shots to taking ill-timed ones. And after logging four assists in his first two games, Morris recorded only two in the next six. Clearly, opponents' increasing awareness and the rigors of the NBA caught up to Morris. On a rebuilding team, coaches would allow such players to work through those kinks. But not the Lakers, considering they had such little margin for error.
In his exit interview, Morris stated clearly that he wants to play somewhere that he'd have a larger role. That might happen with the Lakers considering there's so much uncertainty at point guard. Ramon Sessions opted out of his player option. Steve Blake could be waived through the amnesty provision. The Lakers have a team option on Andrew Goudelock.
But things could remain status quo for Morris considering that the Lakers might keep all three players or at least upgrade that spot. It remains to be seen what market value Morris would actually attract. Regardless, the Lakers probably would want to keep him because he's young and inexpensive.
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