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Oklahoma City Thunder: Anthony Morrow is an excellent offensive player

by Berry Tramel Published: July 14, 2014
Anthony Morrow celebrates during a New Orleans Pelican game last season. (AP Photo)
Anthony Morrow celebrates during a New Orleans Pelican game last season. (AP Photo)

Anthony Morrow is the newest Thunder. The journeyman sharpshooter is the prize of the Thunder’s 2014 free agent crop. So like most years, free agency is more of a yawn than a yell in Oklahoma City.

2014-15 will be Morrow’s seventh NBA season and the Thunder will be Morrow’s sixth NBA franchise. Which means he’s not a great talent. Great talent is not allowed to drift that much.

But Morrow does have a particular skill set — the guy can flat-out shoot, as our man A.C. Slater wrote in the Monday Oklahoman, which you can read here.

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Morrow clearly is not any kind of defensive whiz, but he is a valuable hand. And here are some numbers that help explain it.

Morrow has shot 42.8 percent from 3-point range over his career. How good is that? That’s better than J.J. Redick (39.0). Better than Ray Allen (40.0). Better than Mike Miller (40.9).  Better than Klay Thompson (41.0). Better than Kyle Korver (42.5). Better than Steve Nash (42.8).

In fact, Morrow ranks third among active NBA players in 3-point percentage. Only Steph Curry (44.0) and Steve Novak (43.2) have better percentages than Morrow’s.

In Morrow’s first four seasons, he was a double-digit scorer: 10.1 and 13.0 for the Warriors in 2008-09 and 2009-10, 13.2 and 12.0 for the Netropolitans in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Then Morrow went to the Hawks and was traded in February 2013 to the Mavericks. In that season, Morrow played just 41 games and averaged 4.0 points a game. Last season with the Pelicans, Morrow was back to averaging 8.4 points a game.

But Morrow’s problems never have been shooting. His primarily problem has been playing time. When Morrow plays, he scores.

For his career, Morrow has averaged 15.8 points per 36 minutes.

That’s solid production from a one-dimensional player.

Korver has averaged 13.8 points per 36 minutes in his career.

Miller has averaged 14.6 points per 36 minutes in his career.

Redick has averaged 15.6 points per 36 minutes in his career.

None of those guys are known for their defense. All are more household names than Morrow, who has outscored and outshot them in his career.

What’s the difference? Morrow was not a big-time college player at Georgia Tech, so he didn’t have a ready-made reputation from which to build. His NBA playing time has been sporadic, which is partly his own fault and probably related to defense. And Morrow’s playoff experience has been minimal. As in non-existent. He’s never played in a playoff game.

But Morrow can shoot and Morrow can score.

If you still don’t believe that, here’s a way to convince you.

I think we all can agree that Caron Butler is a professional scorer.

In 12 NBA seasons, Butler has averaged 15.1 points a game. Butler is a two-time all-star. He came to the Thunder last March and averaged 9.7 points a game coming off the bench. Butler is a solid shooter who also can drive. A well-rounded offensive player.

In his NBA career, Butler has averaged 16.2 points per 36 minutes; 0.4 points more than Morrow per 36 minutes.

When Anthony Morrow plays, Anthony Morrow scores. And he does so efficiently.

True shooting percentage is a measurement that takes into account foul shooting and the extra point that comes from a 3-point shot. It measures the value of an individual player’s shot. Not all shooting percentages are created equal. A 40 percent shooter who makes a lot of 3-pointers is more valuable than a 40 percent shooter who does not. A 40 percent shooter who gets to the foul line a bunch is more valuable than a 40 percent shooter who does not.

Morrow takes and makes a lot of 3-pointers. Morrow does not get to the foul line often; 1.4 times per game in his career.

Morrow’s career true shooting percentage is 57.0.

Pau Gasol’s is 56.9. Paul Pierce’s is 56.9. Dwyane Wade’s is 56.8. Kevin Love’s is 56.6. Blake Griffin’s is 56.5. Kobe Bryant’s is 55.5. Tim Duncan’s is 55.1. Tony Parker’s is 55.1. Kevin Garnett’s is 54.7.

Anthony Morrow is an excellent offensive player. I assume he can’t guard anybody, else the Thunder wouldn’t be his sixth NBA franchise in seven seasons.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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