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NBA Draft: Darius Morris brings strong passing skills to the Lakers

June 24, 2011 |  9:21 am

Spending many of his childhood days marveling at Magic Johnson's passing abilities, former Windward High product Darius Morris sounded overwhelmed at the prospect of coming full circle with the Lakers selecting him with the 41st pick of the NBA draft and the school planning to retire his jersey.

He sure has a long way to go before even coming close to reaching Johnson's status, let alone actually make the Lakers roster. For one, Morris plans to spend most of the offseason working on his three-point shot since he averaged only a 25% clip his sophomore season at University of Michigan. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak also openly acknowledged Darius' draft stock would've been higher had he stayed at least another year to develop his game, though Morris maintained having "no regrets at all" for turning pro.

Still, The Times' Mike Bresnahan indicated via Twitter that the Lakers believed Morris would be drafted as high as No. 19, revealing the Lakers are more than satisfied with their draft selections considering they came with four second-round picks at 41, 46, 56 and 58. Acquiring Morris doesn't immediately solve the Lakers' backcourt needs since he's not particularly quick. But he provides a passing role that remained largely absent during the Lakers' 2010-2011 season.

"Being a playmaker and reading what the defense gives me and making players around me better is one of my greatest assets I can bring to the team," said Morris, who led the Big Ten last season in assists (6.7). "In addition to being a playmaker, I can also score at times."

Darius Morris NBA draft interview


Morris showed a huge jump in that department at University of Michigan from his freshman and sophomore seasons, jumping drastically in points per game (4.4, 15), field-goal percentage (40.6%, 48.9%), assists (2.6, 6.7) and minutes (24.3, 34.8). Still, the lasting image behind Morris' career at Michigan entails his missed floater that with 2.9 seconds remaining that could've completed the Wolverines' 15-point second comeback and forced overtime in the NCAA tournament third-round contest against Duke.

That's perhaps why Michigan fans sounded upset when Morris declared himself for the draft and why Morris' stock dropped to the 41st pick. But for the Lakers' sake, they acquired a solid selection given the circumstances. 

"They have a great veteran point guard in Derek Fisher, but I feel like I can provide a different look than him, being bigger and bringing a different look," Morris said. "I'm excited that is a position they can add more depth to so I'm very excited."

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--Mark Medina

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