Darius Morris might have been one of the best players in the G League this past season. He did a great job running point guard for the Santa Cruz Warriors who were one of the best teams in the G League. His play was enough to catch the attention of the Phoenix Suns who brought him in for a visit back in December.
Morris is a bit different from most of the players in the G League in that he has a few seasons of NBA experience under his belt. He was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers and he has had stints with the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, and Philadelphia 76ers.
During his time with the Lakers, he had multiple assignments with the then Los Angeles D-Fenders (now South Bay Lakers). He also spent time with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and he’s seen the league evolve and grow since he first played in it.
“It’s pretty good, I think it’s underrated. You can definitely tell that the level of competition is pretty good cause everybody plays extremely hard every night, there’s no days off,” Morris told Ridiculous Upside. “Everybody plays with a chip on their shoulder. But I would say that the competition is good, the younger players are coming in hungry and ready to get better.”
Morris was the lead guard for Santa Cruz this season. In 34 games, including 25 starts, he put up 15.1 points per game, 6.5 assists, and 3.3 rebounds. Back in November, he won a G League Player of the Week award for a stretch that saw him average 23.3 points on 46.3 percent from the field, 52.9 percent from three, 5.3 rebounds, and 7.0 assists.
He initially began the year in training camp with the New Orleans Pelicans on a partially guaranteed contract before they cut him prior to the start of the NBA season. He hadn’t played in the NBA since the end of the 2014-15 season when he suffered a foot injury before training camp that kept him sidelined.
After a brief stop in China and playing in the G League, he’s fully recovered and eager to show that he can still play in the NBA. He’s hoping his performances in the G League will put him back on the radar of NBA teams.
”It’s kind of like what I was heading towards earlier before my injury. I’m trying to get a call-up and get another legit opportunity,” Morris said. “I was in training camp with the New Orleans Pelicans but it’s always different when you get the official roster spot during the season and get another year of experience under your belt and get that opportunity to play on the court during the regular season. That’s my goal.”
As a veteran of the G League now, Morris is confident that the league is a good place for him to showcase his talent for NBA teams. The league has grown tremendously since its inception as the NBDL back in 2001. It’s become a place where older veterans who have been out of the NBA for a while can prove they still belong.
The G League recently introduced a select contract that would be available to top high school seniors looking to play professional basketball instead of going the college route. Morris believes that a player’s individual situation plays a major factor if the G League is the right option for them or not.
”It depends on the situation. If you’re a fresh, young guy coming out of college and you just got overlooked a little bit, I’d say it’s perfect. Or if you’re a player that’s been in the league for a while and you just want to show that you’re healthy and you still got it, I’d say it’s a perfect situation,” Morris said. “It depends on everybody’s situation and where you’re at in your career. The league is growing as a whole and that’s my take on it.”
As far as his own abilities, Morris is confident that he can still play in the NBA. During his early years with the Lakers, he looked like he could eventually develop into a capable backup point guard with a good three-point shot.
With Santa Cruz, he’s not only been a solid floor general running the offense but a steady veteran leader as well. It’s not only what he can do on the court that he feels would make him valuable to an NBA team, but the leadership he brings off the court as well.
“Well now I got a lot of experience, I’m able to help people on and off the court, especially younger guys. But also I’m in the stage where physically I’m entering my prime, so I got at least five good years ahead of me of really good basketball,” Morris said. “I think I’ve figured out all the pieces. Overall I know what I can bring to a team is being a point guard, being a playmaker, and also being a good leader out there, I think I can bring that.”