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Markieff Morris’ defensive struggles are getting harder to ignore

NBA: Washington Wizards at Brooklyn Nets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Daily Digits is a new daily feature we’re doing at Bullets Forever this year where we take a look at stats about the Wizards. We’ll dive into the numbers, add some context, and discuss how they affect the product on the court.

Today’s stat is the number of points Washington allows per 100 possessions when Markieff Morris is on the floor, which is...

115.5

It’s hard to disagree with anything Zach Lowe had to say about Markieff Morris’ in his column on Friday:

After a hot start as sixth man, Morris has reverted to his worst form as the Wiz have lost six of seven. In Phoenix, Morris had the vague outlines of a jack-of-all-trades -- a power forward who could post up, shoot 3s, make plays for others, and switch across all five positions.

[...]

Teams are plundering the Wiz when Morris shows on the pick-and-roll, per Second Spectrum. He’s a disinterested rebounder, perhaps the main culprit behind Washington being on pace for the worst defensive rebounding rate since 2015. Voracious glass-eaters know they can outwork Morris:

Morris’ defensive rebounding rate is 5 percentage points lower than we would expect based on his size and his position upon the release of all shot attempts, the 16th-worst figure among 193 defenders who have been on the floor for at least 500 rebounding chances, per Second Spectrum.

Some advanced stats paint an even bleaker picture. Morris ranks 91st out of 93 power forwards in ESPN Real Defensive Plus/Minus, just ahead of Jabari Parker and Marvin Bagley III. If you listed him at center, he’d be 61st out of 62, only ahead of Enes Kanter.

Morris has certainly been put in an unfavorable position because of Dwight Howard’s injury and the team’s struggles to find other competent big men. At the same time, some of it is just Keef being Keef.

It would be unfair to make Morris the scapegoat for all the Wizards’ defensive struggles, because there’s plenty to go around, but it’s getting a lot harder to envision how he can be part of the solution especially while he’s being asked to fill a role that doesn’t suit his strengths.