Darius Morris by the Numbers

Dylan Burkhardt

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.


Rank Player Team Ht Wt Yr ARate
1 Darius Morris Michigan 6-4 180 So 44.0
2 Demetri McCamey Illinois 6-3 200 Sr 38.1
3 Bryce Cartwright Iowa 6-1 180 Jr 37.6
4 Tim Frazier Penn St. 6-1 160 So 32.7
5 Jordan Taylor Wisconsin 6-1 195 Jr 30.6

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:

Name 2FGM 2FGA %
Jordan Hulls 54 89 60.7%
Juice Thompson 64 110 58.2%
Aaron Craft 36 65 55.4%
Darius Morris 135 244 55.3%
Lewis Jackson 56 103 54.4%
Talor Battle 95 183 51.9%
Jordan Taylor 87 181 49.6%
Kalin Lucas 96 214 44.9%
Bryce Cartwright 92 215 42.8%
Demetri McCamey 64 153 41.8%
Al Nolen 16 45 35.56%

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

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):

Rank Player Team Ht Wt Yr ORtg (Usage)
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.

Team Improvement

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.
2007-2008 0.96
2008-2009 1.01
2009-2010 1.00
2010-2011 1.07

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.

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  • UM Hoops Fan

    I get on Darius’s case sometimes about staying focused on d or gumming up the offense/taking over a possession after his man scores on the other end, but it’s always with the understanding of how much good he does and just how good he can be. This is a great write up focusing on all the things he does so well. He also seems like a good, hardworking guy, so it’s great to see him getting his just desserts.

  • KAB

    Lunardi showing Michigan no love…I just don’t understand how we are not even on his bubble watch!He has Clemson higher than us,and we beat them away.Not to mention we have a higher RPI.

    • Section 30, Row 28

      Maybe Lunardi is looking at our next five games. I don’t expect we will be the favorite in any of the remaining regular season games. All we have to do is just win a few
      (admittedly tough) games and the bubble talk will take care of itself.

      • grandchamp

        We will be favored over MSU.

    • Beast1530

      No quality wins for Michigan. That’s the problem.

      • sven

        Apparently Michigan State was a quality win since he still has them ahead of us.

        • Beast1530

          MSU is on the fringe and just because they’re on the field doesn’t mean that it’s a quality win.

          Harvard and MSU are fringe top 50 in RPI. I wouldn’t consider both teams as quality wins.

          • Alex

            ESPN listed Harvard as a qualIty win for George Mason or some other mid-major. This was during a live bubble talk session on ESPN. Itwill beose if the in-conference record is at least .500.

    • Jeff

      #1 criteria for making the dance is proving you can beat teams who will be dancing. So far, we’ve beaten one team that is just barely listed as an at-large team. Four of our last five games are against teams that are currently listed as in, so this discussion will take care of itself shortly.

  • sven

    Just got my tickets for the game Wednesday. Can’t friggin wait!!!!!!!!!!

  • MAS

    Interesting read Dylan. I really love his game and right now I think the only 2 pgs in the b10 that are better are Taylor and Battle. I’m really hope Taylor goes pro next season.

  • Who does Darius remind you of? I was thinking Andre Miller.

    He needs to be the leader and finish out these games though. He seems to have some lapses out there.

    • Beast1530

      Andre Miller is an accurate comparison for Morris. Good size PG who can pass but is not a good shooter. Efficient but doesn’t have dazzling athleticism to wow you.

  • Mattski

    Hope Michigan can keep him for two more years because I think Michigan could become an utterly dazzling passing team. But once that NBA potential is established for a player, the pressure to go is enormous.

  • KAB

    We will be favorites over MSU and Iowa.

  • Section13Row15

    4-1 over the next 5 games plays our way into the tourney. Anything less (unless one of the wins is over Wisconsin), puts us on the outside barring a mini-run of some sort in the conf tournament.

  • KAB


  • sven

    Well this could a huge week for us. A win in Chambana will all but eliminate the Illini considering their upcoming schedule.

    Sparty has to go to CBUS to play a very angry OSU and I think Penn St will protect their home court against the Golden Gophers.

  • big poppa

    the big ten is killing each other. 4th team to get 9 conference wins makes the dance

  • j-p-elpaso

    I think the Andre Miller comparison is pretty apt. Going back a few more years, he reminds me a bit of Mark Jackson as well. Very good passer, not a dynamic leaper but knows how to use his body in the paint; not a great shooter but finds ways to score around fifteen a game. Having watched UM hoops since 1980, Morris is the best passer in terms of making “wow” type passes since Eric Turner.

  • Does Aaron Craft start? I know he plays a ton of the minutes, but I thought their starting lineup was something along the lines of Sullinger, Lauderdale, Buford, Lighty, Thomas.