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Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Morris twins not shy as draft approaches

By Eamonn Brennan

As college stars at Kansas, Marcus and Markieff Morris were never known for their reserved demeanors. It's not exactly like they needed to come out of a shell. But they were never so overtly cocky -- with the possible exception of the pregame VCU taunt that turned into an all-time backfire -- as they've been in the run up to next week's NBA draft.

Marcus and Markieff Morris
Former Kansas forwards Markieff, left and Marcus Morris won't enter the NBA lacking confidence.
Let's start with Marcus, who took to the airwaves in Milwaukee recently, where he was asked about a potential NBA comparison to Denver Nuggets forward Al Harrington, a slightly undersized, multi-faceted stretch four that seems like a pretty fair comparison to the Moriis' skill sets. How did Marcus feel about that comparison? He'd like to shoot a little -- OK, a lot -- higher.
“I think the Al Harrington comparison is a little accurate, but I think maybe Carmelo (Anthony) I would say because I’m a mid-range king,” Marcus told the radio station.

Marcus might have been joking there, but he seems far more serious when asked to describe the differences between the Morii and the Lopez twins, one of whom, Brook, is considered a rising young center for the New Jersey Nets.
“Is that a trick question? Not to take anything away from those guys, I think they are great players, I just think me and Markieff have been through a little bit more,” Marcus said. “I mean I think we have different aspects of our game that are just a little bit more than those guys.”

Then there's Markieff, who wasn't just content to handle comparisons to current NBA players. He also wanted to express his displeasure with the notion that he and his brother are considered mid-first round picks while Arizona forward Derrick Williams was seen as a lock to go within the top two picks of the draft. From the Washington Post's Michael Lee:
“I didn’t think he was as good as advertised,” Morris said. “He got the benefit of the calls from the ref and we had to guard him different. He definitely had a good game against us, because we couldn’t guard him how we wanted to guard him, and that’s what happened.”

So when he hears that Williams is a lock to go in the top two, Morris said, “It’s still surprises me. What he did to Duke, he wouldn’t do that to me or my brother [Marcus]. I’m dead serious. He wouldn’t. At all. He’s good. But if we was to work out, I would go at him and I would be able to stop him more than people would expect, you know what I mean?”

The only problem with that? The Morii did face Williams last season, and all Williams did was post 27 points on 9-of-15 from the field and grab eight rebounds. As was the case for most of the season, Williams did that without much frontcourt help from his teammates. As an added bonus, he had that type of comprehensively impressive game against not one but both Morii, who combined to play 45 minutes in the Kansas win and had the benefit of another future NBA prospect, forward Thomas Robinson, contributing efficient defense and rebounding in 19 minutes off the bench.

In other words, the Morii were very good college basketball players, but Williams was better. Arguably much better. There's a reason he's the likely No. 2 pick in the NBA draft, and there's a reason some think he should be drafted ahead of Kyrie Irving at No. 1. A few brash statements to the contrary aren't going to change that perception, especially when the player you're dissing torched you head-to-head all the way back in November. What, exactly, is inconclusive about that?

There's no reason for outrage here. The Morii are trying to convince NBA general managers not only that they belong in the league, but that they're better than most people have given them credit for. Maybe they have a point.

But digging on Derrick Williams? Comparing yourself to Carmelo Anthony? Come on, fellas. If this is a strategy, try a different one. Or just put your head down and do your talking after your surprising rookie season. Until then, this stuff just sounds silly.