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2014-2015 Thunder Player Grades: Anthony Morrow filled his role and then some

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The Oklahoma City Thunder enjoyed a great season from Anthony Morrow, who could possibly be regarded as one of the best free agent signings in the OKC era.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Full Name: Anthony Jarrad Morrow

Birthday: September 27th, 1985 (I included this mostly because it's the same day as mine.)

Nickname: "A-Mo," "Chocolate Reign"

Contract Status: Signed a 3 year/$10 million deal prior to the 2014-15 season. Will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017.

Notable Factoid: Claims that he will be attempting to make between 70,000 and 80,000 shots this offseason.

Player History

Anthony Morrow's ascension into the deadeye sharpshooter he is now was no easy path. After a four year college career at Georgia Tech, Morrow went undrafted in the 2008 NBA Draft. He was set to sign with a Ukranian professional team until the Golden State Warriors called and offered Morrow a spot on their Summer League roster. This resulted in Morrow signing with Golden State, where he enjoyed a successful rookie campaign, including a 37 point outburst in his first career NBA start.

Even after proving himself to be a reliable shooter and solid contributor for the Warriors, Morrow was dealt to the (then) New Jersey Nets in the 2010 offseason in exchange for a 2nd round pick. In New Jersey, A-Mo continued to do his thing and was also part of one of my favorite moments in NBA All-Star Saturday Night history.

However, once again Morrow was traded, this time as part of a major move by the Nets to acquire Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks. His stay in Atlanta was short-lived as he played just 24 games with the Hawks before being moved to Dallas for Dahntay Jones.

Morrow reached a low-point in his career while with the Mavericks, mostly riding the bench and appearing only 17 times with 4.8 minutes per game in the 2012-13 season for Dallas. Hitting the free agent market, Morrow signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, where he revived his career a bit by playing in 76 games. He averaged 8.4 points per game for the Pellies while also shooting 45.1 percent from behind the arc, his highest three-point percentage since his sophomore season in 2009-10 for the Warriors.

After a "remember what I can do" season, the Oklahoma City Thunder jumped at the chance to grab a perimeter threat of Morrow's caliber and inked him to a 3-year contract prior to this season.

Pre-Season Expectations

Coming into this year, Morrow was expected to be a strong role-player off of the bench who brought three-point shooting and spacing for the offense, two areas that had been lacking in OKC. Though he had just come off of a good recovery season in New Orleans, there was still some room for skepticism regarding how fluky that Pelicans season was. However, Thunder GM Sam Presti, who isn't known to make too many splashes in free agency, had long sought after a player who could boost the Thunder's perimeter shooting. Presti fully invested in a player who he believed could fill that role perfectly.

Regular Season Grade: A-

Turns out there was nothing fluky about Morrow's previous season. In an otherwise pretty disappointing season for the Oklahoma City Thunder as a whole, Anthony Morrow was a definite bright spot.

Morrow missed the Thunder's first 7 games of the season, but when returned he quickly found himself thrust into a big role in an offense missing both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. He did struggle a bit in his first 10 games, where he averaged 11.7 points in 28.7 minutes per game on just 40.8 percent shooting. It was a somewhat disappointing start (by his standards), shooting only 38.8% from downtown.

Upon Westbrook's and Durant's temporary return, Morrow settled into the role he was originally meant for and started to return to his shooting form. Though Durant ended up missing the majority of the season (sigh), Morrow was able to mesh well when playing with Westbrook and often gave him a kickout option when denied on a drive or when running in transition.

As a whole, Morrow's contributions often went above-and-beyond that of a usual role player, including some instances from mid-March to early April where he either kept OKC afloat in tough games or helped propel them to some much-needed wins during the race for the 8th seed.

He ended the season averaging 10.7 points per game on 43.4 percent shooting from three-point range and sinking a career-high 141 triples. Here's a look at his shot chart. (LA=league average and DST=shot distribution)

Most Notable Game/Moment: 32 points against the Dallas Mavericks in a game featuring virtually no defense

The Thunder got involved in a good ol' fashioned Texas shootout with the Mavs where the teams combined for 266 points (or a 135-131 loss for OKC). In the midst of this crazy offensive display, Anthony Morrow pitched him 32 points of his own, burying 6 three-pointers in 29 minutes of action. You can re-live the scoring outburst by Chocolate Reign in the clip below.

Honorable Mention: Just one of many great celebrations from Morrow this season.


Future Expectations

With two years remaining on his contract, Morrow is locked in for the near future. He proved himself to be a very valuable asset to this Thunder team in 2014-15 and his ability to step up and knock down shots was incredibly beneficial, not to mention the spacing he provided to allow the paint to open up a bit for guys like Westbrook and Enes Kanter.

Despite the frustrating end to this past season, Morrow has indicated that he would love to finish his career in a Thunder uniform. With the Thunder hopefully starting next year with both superstars fully healthy and intact (fingers/toes/legs/arms crossed), the pressure will be off Morrow a bit, which is where I think he is truly able to contribute consistently. He won't always have those big games, but even his short spurts of instant offense will be crucial to Oklahoma CIty's success over the course of these next two seasons and possibly beyond.

What did you think of Anthony Morrow's season?  Let us know in the comments!