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How Will Separating the Morris Twins Affect Their Games?

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Marcus and Markieff Morris have always maintained that they play better when they’re paired together. With the recent trade of Marcus Morris to the Pistons, the identical twins are now separated after playing the past two and a half seasons together in Phoenix. Are they really better together?  Let’s find out.

The Morris Twins’ Contention

The Morris twins have always wanted to stay together, in part because they believe they play better together. When they were renegotiating their contracts, they told Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:

“We said in the beginning that if we ever get together, we’re going to stay together. We do our best to compete and show how good we are together.

“We’re hoping that we can stay together because we play better together.”

“We feed well off each other. The chemistry we bring is major for any team because you have two people who have lived together, played together and done everything together. We’ve always got that in-sync part of the game.“

They’ve done all sorts of zany entertaining twin tricks on the court as well, such as switching jerseys in an AAU game when one of them was in foul trouble, sporting the exact same facial hair and tattoos, and confusing the hell out of defenders in general. Does this actually translate though to better play on the floor?

Do They Really Play Better Together?

Looking at the Morris twins’ stats, it looks like they do indeed both play better as a pair. Using nbawowy, we can look at how each Morris brother performs alone vs. with the other brother on the court:

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Markieff is the twin who benefits more from the presence of his brother. Markieff scores more, rebounds more and shoots much more efficiently when he shares his brother’s presence on the court. His field goal percentage jumps up 5.6 percent when both brothers are on the floor. He also becomes a markedly better three-shooter – he shoots 38 percent with his brother and drops all the way down to 28 percent from three when he’s on the court alone.

Marcus is a more interesting case. He also scores more efficiently when he shares the court with his brother, but his shooting percentage increase is much smaller than his brother (+2.0 FG%). His points and rebounds take a slight dip when his brother is on the floor, mostly because his usage is lower. Also, while Markieff struggles to shoot threes without Marcus, Marcus doesn’t have the same problem. He shot 36 percent on threes both when his brother was on and off the court.

Which Brother Will Improve? Which Will Decline?

Based on their stats, it looks like the Suns are going to be stuck with a much more inefficient player in Markieff Morris. His game really plummeted without the presence of his brother. He might not be the Suns’ problem for much longer though – he’s been demanding a trade ever since the Suns broke up the tandem.

Meanwhile, the Pistons are getting a great deal in Marcus. He’s paid much less than his brother and his statistics don’t nosedive nearly as much when he’s separated from his brother. Furthermore, he’ll be able to use more possessions with the Pistons now that he’s alone – his scoring and rebounding should go up without having to share the ball with his brother.

The NBA and the Morris twins will be a little sadder without the duo playing together, but they’ll have another chance to reunite in four years when they both become free agents again.

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