May 23 Update: Lots of debate at the NBA combine about Marcus and Markieff Morris. Both players measured OK. Marcus was 6-9 with an 8-10 reach. His brother was 6-9 with an 8-11 reach. Markieff clearly fits the profile of a stretch 4. Marcus is right on the borderline right now. He's been insisting in interviews that he's a 3, but not every team is buying it. It will be interesting to see how it ultimately affects his stock. The Bobcats, Bucks, Warriors, Jazz and Pacers all have interest in him.
May 9 Update: I spent Friday in Tampa watching Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Justin Holiday, Justin Hurtt, and Sean Evans work out with ESPN Insider's David Thorpe.
The Morris twins are among the most intriguing prospects I've seen in the draft. Later this week, ESPN will be running a column I wrote about the likely possibility of their being separated for the first time in their life and their deep desire to be drafted by the same team.
But for now, the focus is on their workout. So how did they look? In short -- really, really good.
For starters, I was floored by their ability to shoot the NBA 3. Typically, that's a major adjustment for draft prospects and, at this early stage, even good shooters are throwing up bricks as they adjust to the difference. But both Morris twins are stroking the ball effortlessly from the big boys' line. A combination of strength and picture-perfect shooting form gives them a great advantage in making the transition.
Other than shooting ability, there are a number of differences. I thought Marcus had quicker feet and was more explosive off the bounce than I saw at Kansas. He showed off a pretty impressive arsenal of skills for a 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward. He's clearly the more skilled and aggressive of the two players.
Markieff, however, has size and toughness on his side. Although he's not quite as quick or as skilled, he's at least an inch taller, has more weight on his body, and takes a more cerebral approach to the game.
Watching them work out together gives you the contrasts in their game -- though NBA teams won't get the same privilege I did. One of their advisers, Jason Martin, informed me that the two will not work out together for teams to avoid being compared directly to each other.
Who will go first? Most likely Marcus because of the skill level, but it really depends on what you want. If you want a pure post player, rebounding or defense, Markieff looks like the better prospect. If you want buckets or a hybrid 3 or 4, Marcus is the better choice.
I think Marcus' range right now is picks 5 to 15. Markieff is in the 7-17 range.
Apr 7 Update: Markieff has lived in the shadow of his brother, Marcus, for the first two years at KU. No more. Markieff was always known as the better defender -- a taller, slightly more explosive version of his brother. But this year he found his offensive rhythm as well. He actually posted a higher PER rating than Marcus, shot a pretty incredibly 42 percent from three and, at times, looked like the more surefire NBA prospect thanks to his size advantage. Markieff is a likely mid first-round pick this year.
Mar 17 Update: The Good: Kansas has the best front line in the NCAA. Marcus Morris is the best offensive prospect of the group. His ability to be equally effective with his back to the basket and on the perimeter is special. Markieff Morris has improved his offensive game, though it's not quite equal to Marcus' yet. Markieff, however, is an inch taller and has proven to be a better rebounder and shot-blocker.
The Bad: Scouts are worried that Marcus may be a tweener in the NBA. His natural position in college has been at the 4, but teams feel he may need to switch to the 3 in the pros. Is he quick enough? Markieff is still a bit rawer than Marcus offensively. Will he be a consistent enough threat in the pros to warrant a lottery pick? Robinson has the most physical tools, but he's the rawest of the three with the ball in his hands. He has talent, but it's still emerging.
The Upside: Scouts debate about whether Marcus or Markieff will be the better pro prospect. Marcus is more polished, while Markieff has a physical advantage that matters in the pros.
Feb 22 Update: We've been raving about Kansas forward Marcus Morris all season. His twin brother, Markieff, has had his admirers as well but has always been in the shadow of his more offensively-gifted brother. However, in the past several weeks, a number of NBA scouts are asking an interesting question -- is Markieff a better prospect than Marcus?
Three months ago, the question would've prompted a laugh track. But lately Markieff has been Marcus' equal on the court. Physically, he has a decided advantage over his brother.
Compare the stats and Marcus still puts the most points on the board (he's averaging 16.7 ppg to Markieff's 13.3 ppg). But Markieff has him beat everywhere else. Markieff rebounds at a better clip (8.4 rpg to 6.9 rpg), is a better shot blocker (1.2 bpg to 0.6 bpg), a better 3-point shooter (42 percent to 33 percent) and shoots a slightly higher percentage from the floor (60 percent to 59 percent). Markieff has even passed Marcus in John Hollinger's PER rankings. And Markieff's doing it all in two less minutes per game.
But that's just part of the story. Markieff is an inch taller and about 15 pounds heavier than Marcus. Scouts also feel that Markieff is a more explosive athlete. While Marcus projects as stuck between the 3 and the 4, Markieff more neatly fits the definition of a 4 that NBA teams are looking for.
At this point in their careers, Marcus is still a more polished player. But with the way Markieff is catching up, scouts are wondering whether he may not be the better long-term pick. Given the number of NBA scouts who are starting to feel this way, Markieff has passed his brother on our Big Board for the first time this season.
Jan 4 Update: Who is the most underrated on our draft board?
Again, there wasn't a ton of consensus here. San Diego State small forward Kawhi Leonard got the most votes, followed by Kansas power forwards Thomas Robinson and Markieff Morris, plus center Lucas Nogueira of Brazil.
Morris has been overshadowed by his brother, Marcus, but scouts really like him. Markieff is not as offensively polished, but he's a better shot-blocker, rebounder and defender, and he is also coming along on the offensive end.
We've had Robinson, Morris and Nogueira outside the Top 30 all year, but scouts say all three are first-round picks if they declare this spring.
June 28, 2010 Update: Markieff's twin brother, Marcus, is a better NBA prospect, but Markieff has shown promise too. He's a better athlete than his brother, but if he can ever put it all together offensively, he's a possible first round pick.