Psychological analytics is one of the next waves of in the NBA, and right now, analysts are collecting data to better predict which players will hold up (or even improve) under pressure, when players will develop chemistry and how players can be motivated. Whichever teams turn that data into useful information will have a huge advantage on the opposition.
The Suns, who acquired Marcus Morris from the Rockets near the trade deadline to pair him with his twin brother, appear to be running their own experiment. Jeré Longman of The New York Times:
Alvin Gentry, who was fired as the Suns’ coach in January, said that last season, Markieff Morris kept urging Phoenix to trade for his brother. And Gentry said that Bill Self, the Kansas coach, told him: “You need Marcus. If you can get him, he’ll make Markieff work harder.”
Markieff seemed to lack hustle and concentration with the Suns, Angel Morris said of her older, by seven minutes, twin. And Markieff also seemed to grow despondent after Marcus, who played little in Houston, was demoted to the N.B.A.’s Development League.
“They said ’Kieff hit a rookie wall,’ Angel Morris said. “I don’t think it was a rookie wall. I just think that when they sent Marcus to the D-League, he was so depressed that ’Kieff felt the same depression.”
Marcus, she said, “didn’t want to be bothered, didn’t want to talk on the phone, was just in another world.”
Marcus’ numbers are down since the trade, and Markieff’s are no better than before. Perhaps, the twins are showing improved practice habits and better performance in other areas, but it hasn’t translated to the court.
The Suns gave up so little (a second round pick) to get a player who was drafted in the lottery just two years ago, they should be mostly immune for criticism for this trade. But if their thinking was at all colored by the anecdotal projections of Self, Markieff and the twins’ mother, that bodes poorly for Phoenix’s future.