Lynam: Impending separation of the Morris twins

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Lynam: Impending separation of the Morris twins

Thursday, June 2, 2011
Posted: 10 a.m.
By Dei Lynam
CSNPhilly.com

The NBA draft in 2004 featured a home grown talent that was available when the Sixers selected with the ninth pick.

That talent was Jameer Nelson, who played his high school basketball at Chester High and then moved on to Saint Josephs University, where he had a marvelous career. It culminated with him leading the Hawks to an undefeated regular season and being named the Naismith College Player of the Year.

Now, Marcus and Markieff Morris are local kids who will hear their names called in the 2011 draft. Unlike Nelson, the Morris brothers left Philly when it came time to play college basketball and attended the University of Kansas.

There is a chance that Markieff will be on the board when the Sixers select at 16 in the first round of the draft, which takes place later this month. Why Markieff and not Marcus? Because Marcus is, by all accounts, going to be a lottery pick because of his more potent offensive skills.

Strange no, different yes, Marcus said of potentially playing basketball without his twin as his teammate come next fall. We dont expect to be drafted by the same team. We hope it happens but if it doesnt, it doesnt. We are looking forward to going our separate ways and maturing without each other which will actually make us grow as men.

Oh, but what if NBA commissioner David Stern steps to that podium on June 23 and says with the 16th pick the Philadelphia 76ers select...

That would probably be the best thing that ever happened, Marcus said, cutting off the sentence before the question could specify his name or Markieffs. Going and playing in your hometown, where you grew up with the people who watched you come up through the years and watched you play basketball through the years and representing, as well as having a Philadelphia jersey on, would definitely be special.

Markieef concurred with his twin brother. He often finds himself being agreeable because Marcus is the more outspoken of the two.

He is more aggressive, Markieff described his twin sibling. At times he can be mean. I am much more easy going and laid back.

Marcus averaged 17 points while shooting 57 percent his final year with Kansas. Markieff, on the other hand, is better known for his rebounding and shot blocking, as well as his three-point shooting, which he demonstrated playing both the power forward and center positions for the Jayhawks.

Markieff averaged 8.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks on 42 percent shooting from behind the arc as a junior. The combination of those numbers have some projecting Markieff, best case scenario, has Rasheed Wallace potential.

Wallace, who was a Simon Gratz graduate, finished his 15 year NBA career averaging 6.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, while being a 34 percent three point shooter.

After being selected fourth overall in 1995, Wallace became a four time All-Star.

Markieff Morris likely wont hear his name called until the middle of the first round and expects his role at the next level to be a garbage man. With the 16th pick, you are probably saying you want more then a garbage man -- you want a contributor.

Markieff believes he is ready to step in and do that, but he wants teams considering drafting him to know that he is willing to do whatever they ask.

Wearing a Sixers jersey or not, Markieef looks forward to circling the date on his calendar next season when his brother will be the opponent.

That will be a first for the both of us, Markieef said. It will be a great feeling just to see him or even guard him on the court.

Markieff did talk with the Sixers brass before leaving the Chicago pre-draft combine. The Sixers havent said they will select a big man, but this past season they certainly did not have a shortage of perimeter players, while rebounding and shot blocking were hardly their strengths.

The last time the Sixers used a first round selection on a native Philadelphian was 1966 when they selected Matt Guokas with the ninth overall pick. It was not unusual then, when the draft was 10 rounds deep, that the Sixers would pick local players, as they did in 1976 when the franchise selected current general manager Ed Stefanski in the 10th round with the 168th overall pick.
Brotherly Love
Brothers, roommates, teammates and soon to be co-homeowners. The Morris brothers arent going to let entering the workforce keep them from being together.

We are going to see each other for sure, Marcus said. We are going to buy a neutral house somewhere and make sure we meet up a lot.

Sharing an identical face could take its toll over two decades, but apparently not for the Morris brothers.

I enjoy it. That is my best friend. We like being twins, Marcus said. We dont want to look different, we want to look the same. Thats why we are twins. Thats why we have the same tattoos and the same type of haircut, like the same food -- it just happened that way.

Each twin has 14 tattoos, all exactly the same and none fall below their elbows in an effort to stay in Moms good graces. Of the 14 tattoos, Marcus says he probably selected 12 of them and Markieef had the honors of picking the other two.

It is not unusual, says Marcus, for one of the twins be more dominant or vocal -- he is that guy in this twosome. Furthermore, Marcus, more so then Markieef, enjoys sharing stories of being look a likes.

We switched classes when we were younger, Marcus explained. 'Kieef was better at math and I was better at reading so we switched. I did his reading test and he did my math test.

It was a simple middle school prank, no harm no foul.

Ironically despite Marcus dominant personality, Markieef made arguably the biggest decision to date for the duo.

He made the decision what college we went to, Marcus recalled. There are a couple big decisions he made, but I make majority.

So far so good for the 21-year-olds who, in less then a month, hope to transfer their basketball successes to the pro hardwood.
E-mail Dei Lynam at dlynam@comcastsportsnet.com

Related: Lynam: Risk on Faried could pay off big for Sixers Plenty of roster decisions ahead for Sixers

Sixers-Grizzlies 5 things: Walking wounded duel in Memphis

Sixers-Grizzlies 5 things: Walking wounded duel in Memphis

The Sixers (4-17) open a three-game road trip against the Memphis Grizzlies (14-8) at FedEx Forum on Tuesday night (8 p.m./TCN and CSNPhilly.com).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Walking wounded
There will be enough players between both teams for the Sixers and Grizzlies to play on Tuesday ... barely.

The Sixers, losers of seven straight, have several key players sidelined for the opener of this road trip. The biggest absence will obviously be Joel Embiid, who will sit out for rest after struggling Monday in the first game of the back-to-back set.

Joining Embiid on the shelf for Tuesday's game will be Jahlil Okafor and Robert Covington while Jerryd Bayless is questionable to suit up. That's in addition to Ben Simmons and Nerlens Noel having yet to play this season.

The Sixers won't find much sympathy in Memphis as the Grizzlies' injury situation is actually worse.

After using an NBA record 28 different players last season because of injury, the Grizzlies have already received a hardship exemption from the league this year to sign guard Toney Douglas. That's because the Grizz are currently down five players, including star guard Mike Conley and swingman Chandler Parsons.

2. One big problem
One player who will be suiting up for the Grizzlies is Marc Gasol, which is certainly bad news for the Sixers.

Now in his ninth season, Gasol is playing some of his best basketball. Despite the center's rebounds dipping to 5.7 a game, he is putting up career highs in points (18.9) and assists (4.2).

The Sixers know all too well just how good Gasol has been this season. The two-time All-Star went off for 27 points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks in the Grizzlies' double-overtime win over the Sixers on the night before Thanksgiving.

That was before the Sixers got hit even harder by the injury bug. There's no telling what Gasol will do against a team with one available center in Richaun Holmes.

3. Foul play
With so many players not able to take the floor, the Sixers -- Holmes in particular -- would be wise to stay out of foul trouble.

The Sixers average 22.0 fouls per game, the fifth-highest mark in the league.

On the flip side, the Sixers could benefit from attacking the Grizzlies. Memphis is obviously limited with players because of its own injury issues and actually averages 23.8 fouls per game, the second-highest rate in the NBA.

4. Injuries
Bayless (wrist) is questionable. Embiid (rest), Okafor (illness), Covington (knee/illness), Noel (knee) and Simmons (foot) are out for the Sixers.

Zach Randolph (personal) is a game-time decision. Conley (back), Parsons (knee), Vince Carter (hip), James Ennis (calf) and Brandan Wright (ankle) are out for the Grizzlies.

5. This and that
- The Sixers have lost eight straight to the Grizzlies.

- The Grizzlies are 10-0 in games decided by five points or less or have reached overtime.

- The Sixers are 1-6 in games Embiid has sat out this season.

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Elton Brand is back with the Sixers, albeit not on the court.

The Sixers agreed with the former NBA forward to name Brand Player Development Consultant. In a press release, the team said Brand will be working with Sixers players in 'every facet of their on- and off-court development' while also working in the front office.

“We are extremely excited to bring Elton Brand back into the organization where he will be a valuable resource to our young and developing team," Bryan Colangelo said in the release. "Elton’s leadership and character displayed throughout his playing career as a player align perfectly with our vision, direction and culture of this basketball team, coaching staff and management group."

Brand retired during training camp after 17 NBA seasons, including five with the Sixers over two stints. The 6-foot-8 forward came out of retirement last season to provide a veteran presence for the Sixers and eventually played in 17 games when the team was snakebitten by injuries. 

He will now continue to be an influence on the Sixers' young core thanks to his new role with the basketball operations department.