Mike Scott is rolling right now. He has a mind-boggling true shooting percentage of 72.2 percent through the month of December and is shooting 73.6 percent (on 53-72 shots) from the field since the Wizards played the Blazers on December 5th.
Scott’s hot streak, coupled with Markieff Morris struggling to catch his stride, begs the question; should Mike Scott be starting over Markieff Morris?
Morris looks like a shell of the guy who averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds and was key to Washington turning their season around last year. He’s averaging just 23.1 minutes per game, the fewest since his sophomore season. And you never know what you’re going to get from Morris on any given night as he can explode for 23 points and seven rebounds like he did against Detroit earlier this month, or put up a clunker of a game and get benched for the entire fourth quarter like he did against the Clippers and Nets last week.
Even though the 20+ point outbursts from Morris seem more like an anomaly than the norm this season, Washington is better suited keeping him as the starter.
Scott is providing a jolt of caffeine for the Wizards off the bench, but this buzz won’t last forever. It would be nearly impossible for him to keep his shooting percentages this high all season. In fact, no one has ever been able to shoot over 40 percent from deep (on at least two threes per game) and shoot over 66 percent on twos over the course of a season. He’s bound to fall off at some point.
Plus, if he were promoted to the starting lineup, he would go from being the first or second scoring option, where he looks most comfortable, to the fourth scoring option with the starters. He’d find the ball in his hands less and it would be that much harder for him to put up these gaudy numbers against better opposition and with fewer touches to find his rhythm.
If we assume for a second that Morris’ shooting will gradually increase over the course of the season as he finds his form while Scott’s will gradually decrease, it gets harder to find areas where Scott is an upgrade. Other than a marginal uptick in rebounding which would likely go down playing more against starters, Scott posts worse numbers than Morris in every other area. Morris gets more steals, more blocks, and can guard more positions defensively, plus he averages more assists.
Numbers aside, let’s not forget about the locker room tension this could potentially produce too. For the most part, Morris has kept his cool this season. But, how would he react to a demotion to the bench? Would that light a fire under him to play better, or would that potentially cause friction for a team barely keeping its head over .500?
The important thing to keep in mind here is Scott is receiving more minutes than Morris so far this month, and is on the floor when it counts, in the fourth quarter. As long as the Wizards are riding Scott’s hot hand in crunch time, I don’t think it matters all that much who starts the first and second halves.
There’s no need to tweak anything right now. The reserves are clicking, led by Scott’s stellar play. So for now, let’s just enjoy how he’s been one of the main reasons why a reserve unit with a dull preseason outlook has exceeded everyone’s expectations so far this year.