The scouting report on Marcus Morris when he arrived in Boston in exchange for Avery Bradley last summer was a fairly simple one: A versatile stretch 4 who struggles on the glass. The rebounding numbers for the first four years of the veteran’s career in Phoenix and Houston were subpar for a player of his size (6-foot-9). In two seasons in Detroit, they nosedived even more, largely due to the presence of Andre Drummond, who gobbles up every defensive rebound in sight. Morris’ rebounding output hit a low point during that stint when he grabbed just 4.6 rebounds per game in 2016-17 despite averaging 32 minutes per game.
Morris entered a far different kind of arrangement when he came to Boston on the rebounding front. He would no longer be playing with a true center for the majority of his time on the floor and would be spending far more time playing power forward in hopes of spacing the floor for Brad Stevens’ offense. A knee injury kept us from seeing the best of Morris for the majority of his first season in green but an uptick was already apparent in his rebounding numbers due to the new setup. He grabbed 18 percent of all available misses, a six-point jump from his time in Detroit, which put him back at a respectable number for his position. The C’s still ran into trouble on the glass when he shared the floor with Al Horford at the 5 on the glass, but Morris came in better than advertised on the glass, even if he remained a liability against bigger players.
Now in the midst of a contract year, Morris is getting plenty of headlines for being one of the most consistent Celtics through 21 games. He’s shooting a career-high 43 percent from downtown and taking more 3s than ever instead of settling for mid-range jumpers. However, these offensive improvements aren’t even the biggest contributions of the season for Morris. Despite playing smaller than ever, the Celtics are a top-5 defensive rebounding team in the league and Morris is the biggest reason why.