Mike Rothstein’s story about Darius Morris and Dan Tan does an extraordinary job of demonstrating what makes Darius Morris such a great human being and is much more rewarding than this one about what makes Morris such a phenomenal point guard. However, it’s time to point out what makes Morris such a great basketball player. We’ve touched on his statistical marvels at times this season, pointing out things like the fact that he accounts for over 50% of Michigan’s offense. But as the season drags on, it feels like we’ve begun to take his production for granted. It’s often a lot easier to pick out Morris’ faults than point out everything that he has done well this season. Here’s just a taste of how well Morris measures up to the rest of the Big Ten.
|4||Tim Frazier||Penn St.||6-1||160||So||32.7|
Morris measures out to be the best assist man in the league. He assists 44% of Michigan’s field goals while he’s on the floor, a measure that ranks fourth nationally and is the best of major conference point guard. Coincidentally, the top three guards in assist rate all play their college ball in Ohio (Toledo, Ohio, and Dayton).
Michigan’s shooters have all shot the ball much better than year’s past, as Michigan ranks second in the Big Ten in effective field goal percentage. A lot of the credit for the shooting improvement has to belong to Darius Morris. He not only provides great looks for Jordan Morgan on the block (Morgan converts 62% of his twos), he also provides great looks for Michigan’s perimeter shooters like Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Two Point Shooting
Morris’ two point shooting might be most impressive line on his resume. Morris has connected on 55.7% of his 244 two points attempts this season. For comparison, here’s how that compares to the other starting point guards in the Big Ten:
Morris has not only attempted more twos than any other point guard in the league, he’s made them at a higher percentage than everyone but Jordan Hulls, Juice Thompson, and Aaron Craft – three players that rarely shoot inside the arc. The only other guards that have more than 200 two point attempts are Kalin Lucas and Bryce Cartwright, both under 45% two point shooters.
Morris is Michigan’s primary threat to score inside the arc yet he has been extremely efficient, shooting 6.8% better on twos than Manny Harris did last season, for example. Most of his shots aren’t easy, and sometimes aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but he does a great job of using his size to his advantage in the lane.
Offensive rating is a measure of offensive efficiency that when combined with usage rate (number of possessions that a player uses via a shot, turnover,) demonstrates how productive of an offensive asset a specific player is. Here are the top offensive ratings for Big Ten players that use 24% or more of their possessions (“major contributors” per KenPom):
|1||Jordan Taylor||Wisconsin||6-1||195||Jr||131.4 (26.4)|
|2||Jared Sullinger||Ohio St.||6-9||280||Fr||124.0 (26.5)|
|3||Jon Leuer||Wisconsin||6-10||230||Sr||118.0 (29.0)|
|4||John Shurna||Northwestern||6-8||215||Jr||117.8 (25.1)|
|5||JaJuan Johnson||Purdue||6-10||216||Sr||113.4 (27.1)|
|6||Talor Battle||Penn St.||6-0||170||Sr||112.8 (28.6)|
|7||E’Twaun Moore||Purdue||6-4||190||Sr||112.0 (27.0)|
|8||Christian Watford||Indiana||6-9||220||So||111.4 (28.5)|
|9||Draymond Green||Michigan St.||6-6||235||Jr||111.1 (25.7)|
|10||Demetri McCamey||Illinois||6-3||200||Sr||110.9 (25.5)|
|11||Darius Morris||Michigan||6-4||180||So||110.1 (29.1)|
Morris actually uses more possessions than most others on the list (which generally lowers a player’s offensive rating) but measures up extremely well despite falling a bit in the last week. He’s a bit behind other guards like Talor Battle, E’Twaun Moore, and Demetri McCamey but he appears to belong in the same breath as the league’s top guards not named Jordan Taylor. For comparison’s sake, Morris’ offensive rating is actually higher than any other high usage Michigan players under John Beilein. Manny Harris’ best ORtg was 106.9, DeShawn Sims topped out at 108.5. Morris is using a similar number of possessions but has actually been a more efficient scoring option.
The number one sign of a good point guard is making your teammates better. While Morris might over dribbles at times, Michigan’s offense has actually been better in conference play than any other year under John Beilein. Here are Michigan’s Big Ten offensive efficiencies by season:
|B10 Off. Eff.|
This isn’t the case of Morris throwing up a bunch of bad shots on a team that can’t score. Michigan’s offense is better this season by a pretty significant margin despite losing its two best offensive players from a year ago. Yes he has flaws — he needs to continue to develop his left hand, improve his perimeter jumpshot, and he sometimes tries to force the issue –but there’s no denying that Morris has been the primary reason that this team has overachieved thus far.