Five things Darius Morris needs for a successful season
1. Be a playmaker. This should become Morris' biggest strength considering he led the Big Ten Conference season in assists (6.7) last season. It also would help him distinguish himself. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will immediately like him if he passes them the ball.
2. Improve outside shooting. Morris has spent most of his off-season improving his three-point shot since he averaged only 25% during his sophomore season at Michigan. Tyrell Jamerson, a former Nevada Las Veags guard who trained Morris this summer, says he mostly worked on shooting jumpers instead of set shots because it better simulates defenders trying to stop them. Regardless of Morris' approach, it's crucial that he develops at least a decent shot.
Since the Lakers lacked a strong outside shooter last season, Morris would immediately earn more playing time if he shows a good outside shot. Also, it would force defenses to actually play honest against him since most might first look to limit his passing abilities.
3. Add speed/athleticism. Morris doesn't bring much quickness, but he needs to add energy to a veteran team. That would help in leading the Lakers in transition and stopping those quick guards they never seem to be able to defend.
4. Be prepared for a larger role. The Lakers don't have the funds to upgrade significantly at point guard. It's vital that Morris plays well enough that the Lakers can increase his role should Derek Fisher and Steve Blake struggle. It's unrealistic that Morris will solve the Lakers' point guard problems, but minimizing his learning curve would at least eat into some of Fisher's and Blake's minutes. Should the NBA lockout persist, a reduced schedule will feature a lot of games in a short amount of time, making it more important that Fisher and Blake get enough rest.
5. Be patient. The Lakers could improve in numerous areas because of motivation from last season's poor finish and from a prolonged off-season. That could include Fisher, who lacked the clutch performances he normally shows in the postseason. That could include Blake, who didn't display much in the way of his playmaking abilities. Should they both improve, Morris should accept that any significant role will take time.
-- Mark Medina
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