With an already exceptional NBA career built in a span of four years only, Monte Morris, one of the league’s most reliable backup point guards, has finally departed from the Denver Nuggets and has decided to take his services to the Washington Wizards’ side.
Known for his excellent shooting efficiency and remarkable playmaking skills, the 6’2″ Iowa State alumni most probably had a hard time moving on from his first-ever NBA team, but with a series of off-season moves by the Nuggets, he, along with guard-forward Will Barton, was traded to the Wizards in exchange for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith. There is a reason why we named him one of the best Iowa State basketball players ever.
An already outstanding baller, is Monte Morris a good fit for the Wizards? Moreover, with his services, can he lead the Wizards back to the finals stage and end the team’s 44-year championship drought?
Szn 6 🔒 pic.twitter.com/GWxGl3ZIH8
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) October 4, 2022
Zero To Hero
Morris started his career at Iowa State as a second-stringer. Support to DeAndre Kane, the then-rookie Morris posted an average of 6.8 points, 3.7 assists, and 2.6 rebounds within limited yet well-spent minutes. The Michigan native continued to deliver the goods off-the-bench the following games until the team’s last 17 games of the season when Morris finally earned then-Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg’s starter nod. To add to his numbers, Morris also posted a 4.79 assist-to-turnover ratio, setting a new NCAA record, which later on became his forte in the NBA.
The following season, Morris took over the starting guard position and became one of the team’s main guns throughout the tourney, coming off second on the team with an average of 11.9 points, 5.2 assists, and 3.4 rebounds, earning him a spot in the All-Big 12 Second Team. The 6’2″ guard continued setting records in his sophomore year alone, leading the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio while also generating 110 steals in the last two seasons, the best by any Big 12 player, and 176 assists to end the year.
He became the 32nd Cyclone player to reach the 1000-point mark in his third year, while also leading Iowa and the Big 12 in terms of minutes played at 39.9 per game. He also earned the Emerald Coast Classic Most Outstanding Player award after tallying an average of 17 points along with 5.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in the team’s victories against the Hokies and the Fighting Illini.
Freshman Monté Morris leads the country in assist/turnover ratio (5.33). pic.twitter.com/Xi7eednXR4
— Iowa State Men’s Basketball (@CycloneMBB) January 17, 2014
Legacy As A Cyclone
In his final year with the Cyclones, Morris played each game as if it was his last. He continued being the best hero he can be for Iowa, ending his collegiate career with 16.4 points per game, 6.2 assists, 80.2 free-throw success rate, 1.5 steals, and 37.8 beyond-the-arc success rate, finishing fifth, second, sixth, and tenth, and thirteenth in the Big 12 for the said skills, respectively. He also became the Cyclones’ winningest player with a hundred victories under his belt. Overall, Morris definitely had a stellar zero-to-hero collegiate career, didn’t he?
After playing for Iowa, he was the 51st pick in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft, eventually selected by the Nuggets. The baller signed a two-way contract with Denver, which meant him splitting his time with the Nuggets and the assigned G-League team for him, later revealed to be the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. After a little while, he was promoted to the Nuggets’ roster, debuting in 2017 against the Detroit Pistons.
Monte's got his Cyclone family at Ball tonight 🥺🙌 pic.twitter.com/rUzaDrDdFc
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 27, 2022
Guard With A Gun
Throughout his stay with the Nuggets, Morris had cemented himself to be one of the league’s most reliable point guards. After appearing in just three games, totaling 25 minutes, in his rookie year, Morris spent the off-season working on his craft to prove that he has the guns the Nuggets had been searching for.
As a result, Morris’ second year was miles better than his first, generating 10.4 off-the-bench marks for the team, highlighted by a stellar 41.4 success rate on three-pointers. His steady ball-playmaking skills also began to show up in the season.
In December 2020, his third year with the team, Morris signed a three-year contract extension with the team, his efforts in the previous seasons paying off. With Jamal Murray sidelined by an ACL injury, Morris earned Michael Malone’s starter nod, serving as the Nuggets’ starting point guard in the 2020-21 season. Gaining significantly more minutes on the floor, the 6’4″ baller garnered an average of 10.2 points per game, along with 3.2 assists and two rebounds.
Apart from these, he was also an exceptional beyond-the-arc hotshot, posting a stunning 39.5 success rate. The following season, his last with the team, Morris played one of his most notable games throughout his basketball career, delivering the game-winning buzzer-beater in the Nuggets’ 117-116 shocker against the heavily-favored Warriors.
Morris left the Nuggets appearing in 75 games in his last season, 29.9 minutes each, while posting a career-high 12.6 points per game, along with 4.4 assists and four rebounds before eventually moving to the Wizards’ chamber.
You can catch @BigGameTae ballin' at @CapitalOneArena this season 🔜#DCAboveAll pic.twitter.com/ispCaINDWb
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) July 6, 2022
So, Is He A Good Fit For The Wizards?
The Wizards finished the previous season with a 35-47 slate, failing to secure a back-to-back trip to the playoffs. Morris’ addition to the team added more depth to the Wizards’ roster, filling in the starting point guard’s position. It is also notable how the Washington-based squad ended the previous season as the worst team in the entire league in terms of three-pointers. The Iowa State alum’s 39.5 beyond-the-arc success rate will surely help in lifting the team from such a muddy point.
The 27-year-old hooper’s fifth-place finish in assist-to-turnover ratio last season will also give the Wizards an assurance of a reliable point guard, with the newly-acquired baller consistently running the offense, protecting the ball, and limiting turnovers, while also generating points throughout his NBA career.
Aside from the situation with 3-point shots, the Wizards also had troubles on the defensive end, dropping from 19th mid-season to 25th in the end. Morris, last season’s most defensive point guard and ninth overall can definitely assist the team on the defensive end.
Have The Wizards Hit The Jackpot?
With all these statistics, Morris is definitely a jackpot for the Wizards, providing solutions to the team’s weaknesses last season. It also helps that he is already familiar with the Wizards’ coach, Wes Unseld Jr., as he was previously the assistant coach of the Nuggets for six years.
Currently standing at 1-2 in the preseason games, the Wizards still have over a week to work on their offensive and defensive stability. Morris, on the other hand, provided 9 and 11 points on the team’s two consecutive exhibition game losses against the Warriors before generating two assists and seven rebounds on a scoreless performance in a 116-107 victory over the Hornets.
He definitely needs to get back on track before the Wizards miss another shot at the playoffs stage. On the brighter side, Morris can do another zero-to-hero comeback, literally, for the Wizards and eventually redeem himself before the season begins.
Monte Morris, on how competitive the Washington Wizards training camp has been, also says the team is trending in the right direction. @BigGameTae is 🔒 in. pic.twitter.com/Q9lQ8rlEwW
— Wayne Cole (@waynec0le) October 7, 2022
Morris is definitely a good fit for the Wizards’ roster. With consistency, he, along with Barton, Gill, Kuzma, Hachimura, and Porziņģis, will be the team’s backbone in their quest for a comeback to the playoffs stage and eventually a long-awaited return to the championship round.
The Washington Wizards still have a preseason game against the New York Knicks before opening their season on a battle with the Indiana Pacers on October 20.
Kristaps Porzingis and Monte Morris draining 3s in unison pic.twitter.com/2SX8taSf8Y
— Hoop District (@Hoop_District) October 9, 2022
Credits on Featured Image: Wizards Twitter