It's one thing for two people to be born as identical twins. It's another entirely for them to go out of their way to be all but indistinguishable.
That's just how close Markieff and Marcus Morris are. The two 24-year-old forwards for the Phoenix Suns share much more than genes and a team. According to Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears, they also sport the same tattoos and facial hair, and currently occupy the same house in Arizona.
But not the same bedroom. Apparently, making millions in the NBA has afforded the Morris brothers the luxury of sleeping in their own quarters. They settled their dispute over who got the master bedroom over a game of "Madden"; Markieff's Dallas Cowboys topped Marcus' hometown Philadelphia Eagles.
So there's one difference between them, albeit one fostered out of necessity. Many more emerge once you bring numbers into the equation.
And with the Suns on track to squeeze their way into the postseason, there's no time like the present to become the resident expert in telling the Morris twins apart.
For one, Marcus wears the No. 15 jersey for Phoenix, while Markieff suits up as No. 11. That's more separation on the number line than the Suns once saw from Tom (No. 4) and Dick Van Arsdale (No. 5)—the last set of twins to play together in the NBA before Marcus and Markieff were reunited in the Valley of the Sun.
Like the Van Arsdales, the Morris twins went to the same school (Kansas) and were drafted in the same year (2011) and the same round (first). In fact, the Morrises were selected with back-to-back picks; Markieff went 13th to the Suns before the Houston Rockets took Marcus with the 14th pick.
Which is fitting, since Markieff was the first one out of their mother's womb. They were reunited just ahead of the 2013 trade deadline, when the Suns sent a second-round pick to Houston.
"It was unbelievable," Markieff said of hearing Marcus would be joining him in Phoenix (via Yahoo Sports). "I couldn't believe it till he got here. I was happy, psyched," Markieff said.
“Nobody in the league has played longer together than we have,” Marcus told The New York Times' Jere Longman last March. He wasn't kidding, either; the Morris twins hadn't been separated on a court until they debuted as rookies, and became teammates again after just a season-and-a-half spent in separate cities.
Now that they're together, their coaches can only really tell them apart by size. Markieff is listed at 6'10 and 245 pounds, just ahead of Marcus' 6'9, 235-pound frame.
That size disparity, however slight, informs their respective styles of play—which, as it happens, are probably what set them apart the most.
Both are capable of operating from nearly any spot on the floor. Markieff, though, is more prone to interior play, while Marcus is the bigger threat from the perimeter. Markieff averages more points (13.7 to 9.8) and rebounds (5.9 to 3.9) and shoots a higher percentage from the floor (.487 to .446) than does his brother.
It certainly helps Markieff's case that he takes so many more of his shots inside. Check out his shot chart, courtesy of NBA.com:
More than two out of every five shots that leave Markieff's hands do so within eight feet of the basket. Compare that to Marcus, who shoots just over a fifth of the time inside:
Not surprisingly, Markieff takes twice as many free throws per game (4.1) as does his brother (2.0). That's to be expected when one does his work within the more heavily contested regions of the court and with a more physical style, while the other prefers to operate from the perimeter.
To be sure, Marcus makes good use of his outside game. He's hit 38.7 percent of his 3.3 three-point attempts per game—far better than Markieff's 31.6 percent on 1.4 tries.
The stats from Synergy Sports paint this same picture of the Morris twins, but in greater detail:
|Morris vs. Morris by Play Type Frequency|
|Isolation||P&R Handler||P&R Roll||Post-Up||Spot-Up|
Next time you're watching a Suns game, then, and you're trying to figure out which Morris is which, just check where on the floor each one is. Chances are, if the Morris you're looking at is close to the hoop, it's Markieff. If he's hanging out around the three-point line, he's probably Marcus.
If that's too confusing to follow, and there's only one Morris on the floor, it's going to be Markieff more often than not. He averages 26.3 minutes per game while Marcus logs 22.2.
That doesn't happen all that often, though. According to NBA.com, they share the floor for 16.8 minutes per game.
Now, if only there were some other way to easily tell them apart...
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