After a fairly uneventful trade deadline for the Lakers, all eyes have moved towards the buyout season. Productive players on terrible teams with expiring deals looking for a change of scenery typically have suitors vying for their services and after freeing up a roster spot, the Lakers are in line for one of those buyout candidates.
With the Lakers swapping out Svi and Zubac for Bullock and Muscala, it signifies the front office finally making moves in an attempt to address some of the Laker’s shooting woes. Though Bullock has greater use as he is quality defender even when not scoring, Muscala will only be used for situational purposes and shouldn’t be counted on much outside of that.
With buyout season in full effect, the Lakers have a few specific areas that they need to address in order for the team to make the push into the playoffs this year. While the team has issues, the carousel of injuries that keeps hindering quality lineups is not helping at all.
That being said, Markieff Morris should be at the top of the Lakers list of buyout candidates. Here is a look at how how he can integrate with the Lakers and help towards their playoff goals.
Markieff’s passing ability is underrated specifically when it comes to how he passes his teammates into good looks. When we think about traditional passing, we visualize point guards delivering passes in a timely fashion to shooters or artfully delivering lobs to finishers.
Markieff’s ability is similar to what good quarterbacks do with receivers they have great chemistry with. He is able to deliver passes in areas where his teammates can get the ball and score even when the window of opportunity isn’t there.
On this play, Morris delivers the ball to the outside of Dekker’s cut. If Morris leads Dekker on this play, there is a good chance he’d be battling Oubre for a loose ball situation.
On this play, Markieff drops A DIME right behind Anunoby’s turned head since he knows the path Oubre is going to take to the rim. This is an excellent example of Morris’ passing creating an opportunity that doesn’t exist.
On this play, watch how Morris adjusts to the extra defender coming to seal his baseline drive and places the ball only where Dwight can finish it.
The Lakers like to run cutting actions out of the high post and having Morris be the passer in those situations allows the Lakers to use BOTH Kuzma and Ingram as slashers (normally the Lakers could only use one or the other)
When he isn’t making plays out of the post, Markieff can hold his own against different types of defenders in isolation post up situations. Because he plays with a sturdy base, he is prone to “toughing” out the possessions as opposed to trying to finesse his way to the rim.
Here is a sequence against a bigger player in Leuer, Markieff changes direction in his post until he gets into a more comfortable shooting area
In this next sequence against a similar size defender. Morris bullies Dudley to a better shooting look for himself and finishes a contested but in rhythm look.
Rolling and Slipping Screens
In addition to his quality passing and scoring abilities out of the post. Morris has a great feel for how defenders are playing his screen actions. Aside from delivering quality screens, Markieff does a solid job slipping screens when his defender is hedging early on his screens. He also does an excellent job sealing trailing defenders and creating pass opportunities for the ball handler to drop passes to him on his rolling action.
On this play Morris delivers a quality down screen and then effectively seals Warren away from the play and creates a passing lane for himself which Ariza delivers.
This next play is a good example of how Morris “feels” Sabonis hedge early on his screen and slips immediately to the open area of the court for a score
Having Morris allows the Lakers to use screen and roll sets with different outcomes. Teams are completely selling out on preventing lob passes to Laker big men so having Markieff be the screener in small ball lineups allows teams to not be able to stick to specific defensive schemes. He even can function as the “hockey assist” player and make plays for his teammates after delivering the screen and receiving the pass (similar to what Draymond Green does for the Warriors)
Integrating Morris within the Lakers current offense wouldn’t be much issue. His quality screening and passing in addition to his reads off of screens make it difficult for team’s to just stick to one defensive game plan.
Morris is a tenacious defender in his own right and his skills would fit seamlessly with the usual actions the Lakers deploy. If fully healthy, Markieff’s veteran presence could be a tremendous addition to the Lakers roster.