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Edge Of Morrow: Why Anthony Morrow Is Underpaid

Credit: NBA.com

Anthony Morrow is a bargain at $3 million per year.

This summer, Oklahoma City inked shooting guard Anthony Morrow to a three-year/$10 million contract. Morrow is a one-trick pony, but he does that trick extremely well; he shot 45% from deep last year, good for fifth in the league among players who both logged more than 15 minutes per game and shot two or more threes per contest (basically, among “three-point shooters”). 

Morrow is particularly dangerous in transition, where he hit a scorching 47% of his treys, per Synergy Sports. He fills in the wings well and gets his jumpers off in a pinch, like below:


With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook running the break, Morrow should find plenty of open three-pointers when he runs the floor. 

Morrow also addresses a glaring OKC weakness: corner three-point shooting. The Thunder shot well below average from both corners last season, as the team’s shot chart shows: Image title

High conversion of corner threes (the easiest three-pointer to hit) is typically an earmark of elite offensive teams. Last season, San Antonio shot 41% from the corners and Miami hit a video-game like 43% from the same area. The fact that OKC struggled from the right angles suggests that they still hasn’t reached their offensive peak, which should scare the hell out of Western Conference teams. Morrow is a sniper from both corners and will immediately sooth the deficiency. 

Morrow is a strong offensive player, but what about his defense? By the eye-test, he’s well below average. He doesn’t move his feet too well, he isn’t particularly strong, and he didn’t even come close to approaching a steal per game. But, the Pelicans did give up three points less per 100 possessions while Morrow was on the floor, per 82games.com. This might speak more to New Orleans’ generally poor defense (it was still BAD while Morrow was on the floor, just not as bad), but it could also mean that Morrow is at least a decent team defender. It’ll be easier to tell once he starts playing for a good defensive team in the Thunder. 

So, Morrow is good on offense and might be OK on defense. Why is he only getting paid $3 million per year?

I’m not so sure.

A good comparison to Morrow is Kyle Korver, who Grantland’s Zach Lowe recently wrote a great piece about. Quick summary: Korver is an amazing shooter who creates big problems for opponents (if you want to read it in full, here is the link). Since the article, everyone has hopped on the Korver bandwagon, and rightfully so. 

But, lets compare Morrow and Korver. Below is Korver’s shot chart from last year. However, under his shooting percentage from all five three-point positions I’ve inlaid Morrow’s numbers as well. So, in the right corner, Korver shot 51.6% and Morrow shot 50%. Take a look:Image title

You can see that at the two of the five positions, Morrow actually bested Korver (at those spots I’ve poorly photoshopped in Morrow’s picture). Really, Korver is a considerably better shooter at only one spot, the left corner. Yet, he’ll be paid more than twice what Morrow makes next season - and he’s five years older! 

There are other equivalent shooters who are stuffing their pockets, too. J.J. Redick is cashing a $6 million check every year, and Jodie Meeks just signed a contract for $19.5 million over three years. Klay Thompson is about to get a max deal, and his game, like Morrow’s, is largely characterized by spot-up shooting.

This isn’t a huge sample size, but $3 million per year for a top shooter just seems low, especially when shooting is becoming more and more prized by analytically-savvy organizations. 

Morrow’s paycheck could just be a product of context; he was un-drafted out of Georgia Tech and OKC will be his sixth team in seven years (the kind of resume that scares away teams). Either way, if he fits in with the Thunder roster as well as analysts think he will, he’ll be in for a fat pay raise when his next contract rolls around.

Edited by Justin Peroff.

SQuiz
How many points did Anthony Morrow score in his first NBA start?
Created 8/11/14
  1. 15
  2. 25
  3. 30
  4. 37

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