Source: USA TODAY
Connecting two halves to make a whole makes simple sense for NBA teams with precious roster space and pricey payrolls.
At the end of last season and start of this season, that seemed to be what the Phoenix Suns had done by pairing twins Marcus and Markieff Morris.
The logic passed on from Kansas coach Bill Self to former Suns coach Alvin Gentry was that the Suns should acquire Marcus Morris, as far back as the 2011 draft, in order to get the best out of both of them.
By the middle of last season, neither was fulfilling the potential of first-round draft status, and it was not just how they were affected by being separated for the first time. When they were reunited as Suns teammates last season, there was more of Markieff’s inconsistency while Marcus could not even stick in the rotation. This season started with the possibility of the twins being the Suns’ starting forwards but both wound up as reserves getting off to sluggish starts.
Markieff boomed into the best basketball of his career three weeks ago to be Western Conference Player of the Week from a bench role and then turned ill for a production plunge that coincided with Marcus finding his steady groove.
Now, the Suns are experiencing dual peaks. Simultaneous contribution. Bench production. Twin-tuition.
Over the past three games, Markieff has posted 43 points and 20 rebounds off the bench, as Marcus has prodded him to take his game inside more often. Marcus has tallied 44 points and 14 rebounds in the same stretch, manning the small-forward spot unless he goes back to their Kansas front-line days as power forward next to Markieff at center.
Since Marcus’ arrival nine months ago, there have been isolated incidents of some sort of extrasensory perception and communication between the two. They have an innate quality to know where each other is the court and anticipate moves from one another.
The length-of-the-court passes were frequent examples of how the best friends know what one another are doing without even looking as one rebounded or inbounded and hurled the ball down the court before even seeing that the other one was racing ahead of the defense.
The tuned play would be right in line with their lives, where they share the same house, tattoos and daily routines, to the point that they come and go from the locker room and practice court together. They put in extra work, vowing to make the most of this chance to keep playing together, just as they had from the time they were in adjoining twin beds as kids to when they were drafted back-to-back by Phoenix and Houston in 2011.
Further examples arise now, like in Wednesday night’s win against Portland. In the third quarter, Markieff grabbed his own rebound and Marcus was the first to instinctively come back to the play. Markieff wrapped a pass around a defender to Marcus for a layup. In the second quarter, Markieff split two Trail Blazers to get to an offensive rebound that he could only tap out but he knew where Marcus was on the court and slapped it to him for a leaner.
“We’re just playing hard first and foremost,” Marcus said. “Everything will come. Offensively, we’re good players. Defensively, we’re smart. We just come with energy. It’s been there. We’re just getting into the groove more and more and more and different stuff is going to happen.”