Chris Morris was a productive double-digit scorer at the small forward slot for eight seasons after coming into the NBA in 1988, seven with the New Jersey Nets and one with the Utah Jazz. But he has averaged just 4.3 ppg in each of the last two seasons while playing a reserve role for Utah. Tremendously athletic and skilled enough to play inside or out, Morris can throw down the spectacular dunk or hit the three-point shot. After averaging 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds as a senior at Auburn, where he spent two years as an understudy to Chuck Person, Morris was selected by the Nets with the fourth overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft. Morris established himself immediately, averaging 14.1 points and 5.2 rebounds as a rookie in 1988-89. He also led the Nets in three-point field goal percentage (.366) and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. The following season Morris lifted his scoring average to a career-high 14.8 points per game. In his third campaign he grabbed a career-best 6.6 rebounds per outing. He turned in spectacular playoff performances in 1992 (18.8 ppg in four games) and 1993 (17.0 ppg in five contests). Relatively injury-free during his first five seasons, Morris missed 32 games in 1993-94 because of a variety of injuries, including a broken thumb, and he set career lows in almost every category. Although minor injuries kept him out of 10 games in 1994-95, he continued to make steady contributions, averaging 13.4 ppg. He signed with Utah as a veteran free agent on October 5, 1995 and in his first season with the Jazz averaged 10.5 ppg, seeing action both as a starter and a reserve and at big guard as well as small forward. He played just 977 minutes and averaged only 4.3 ppg in 1996-97, both career-lows, although he did provide the Jazz with a long-range shooting threat off the bench, ranking fourth on the team with 31 three-pointers. He averaged 4.3 ppg again in 1997-98, playing just 10 minutes a game in his 54 appearances.
Morris played in 54 games for Utah, missing 24 as a DNP-CD, two while a trade with Orlando was pending and two for violations of team policy. He averaged 4.3 points per game, matching his career-low from the previous season, and logged a career-low 10 minutes per game. He did finish the regular season strongly, however, averaging 7.8 points in 15.3 minutes over his last 10 games and shooting .509 from the field as compared with .411 for the season. He scored a season-high 20 points against Phoenix on February 26 and logged his only double-double of the season against Minnesota on April 14 when he scored 17 points and grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds. In his only start of the season, in place of the suspended Karl Malone, he had 16 points and six rebounds in a season-high 26 minutes against the Clippers on April 10. He came off the bench in 17 of Utah's 20 playoff games and contributed 4.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in 14.1 minutes per game. His seven three-pointers ranked fourth on the team.
Posted 17 points (6-7 FG, 2-3 3FG, 3-4 FT) and 3 rebounds against the Utah Jazz on 4/9 Registered 10 points (4-7 FG) and 5 rebounds in a 93-78 victory over the Golden State Warriors on 3/31 Recorded 12 points and a team-high 9 rebounds against the Cleveland Cavaliers on 3/10 Scored 12 points (5-7 FG, 2-3 3FG) in a 115-106 victory over the Denver Nuggets on 2/15 Made his first start for the Suns, totaling 7 points and 5 rebounds, in a 107-104 overtime win over the L.A. Clippers on 2/13
Morris' production dipped below double figures to 4.3 points in 13.4 minutes per game, both career-lows. He appeared in 73 games for the Jazz, all but one off the bench, and ranked fourth on the team with 31 three-pointers. He scored in double figures 11 times, tallying a season-high 15 points in a 106-93 victory over Golden State on April 17 in which he shot 4-for-8 from three-point range. He averaged 2.2 rebounds, with a season-high eight in a 105-96 win at Indiana on March 14. Morris appeared as a reserve in all 20 playoff games for Utah, averaging 2.9 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game. He scored a playoff-high 11 points, shooting 4-for-7 overall and 3-for-5 from three-point range, in 14 minutes in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls.
Morris showed scoring ability and versatility in his first season for the Jazz. Playing both at big guard and small forward, he appeared in 66 games, split evenly between starting and bench assignments. He missed 15 games because of a chest/rib injury and one as a DNP-CD. he was injured while diving for a loose ball against Miami on Jan. 8 and went on the injured list the following day. Morris was Utah's fourth-leading scorer at 10.5 ppg but shot just .437 from the field and .320 from three-point range, where his 63 treys ranked fourth on the club. He scored 20 points or more eight times, getting a season-high 23 points at the Lakers on Jan. 15. He twice grabbed nine rebounds, and his 3.5 rpg ranked fifth on the team. He started 13 of 18 playoff games and averaged 6.2 points per game, with a high of 25 points in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against San Antonio, when he shot 11-for-14 from the field.
After having missed 32 games the previous season, Morris returned to form in 1994-95, averaging 13.4 points and 5.7 rebounds. Those statistics nearly matched his career numbers; when the season began, he owned career averages of 13.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest. Morris, almost exclusively a forward in his career, was pressed into occasional service at off guard after starter Kevin Edwards suffered a season-ending injury. Like most of the team, Morris struggled from the field. As a club, the New Jersey Nets ranked last in the league with a field-goal percentage of .436. Morris logged a career-low .410 accuracy rate but was an asset from beyond the three-point arc. His .334 percentage from long range was second on the team, and he led the club in both three-pointers attempted (317) and three-pointers made (106).
Having missed only 21 games in his entire career, Morris entered the 1993-94 campaign, as the New Jersey Nets' senior citizen in terms of service to the organization. His season, however, was interrupted when he was placed on the injured list on March 8 with a broken right thumb. He did not return to action until April 15 and did not again crack the starting lineup until Game 2 of a first-round playoff series against the New York Knicks. The broken thumb was one of a slew of injuries that hampered Morris in his sixth NBA season. The talented small forward appeared in just 50 games and started only 27. He finished fifth on the team in both scoring (10.9 ppg) and rebounding (4.6 rpg) and still managed to lead the club in three-pointers made (53). He turned in his best performance of the season against the Dallas Mavericks on February 27, recording 27 points and 4 blocked shots.
Morris impressed new coach Chuck Daly by producing his best shooting season (a .481 percentage) and averaging 14.1 points. The fifth-year forward teamed with Derrick Coleman, Kenny Anderson, and Drazen Petrovic to give the upstart Nets four legitimate offensive weapons. Morris scored 32 points twice during the season, only a single point shy of his career high. Morris also set a new career best with a .794 free-throw percentage. He added 5.9 rebounds and a career-high 1.87 steals per game. Despite the loss of Anderson because of a fractured wrist in February, the Nets pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers to five games in a first-round playoff series. For the second straight year Morris excelled in the postseason, averaging 17.0 points and shooting .557 from the floor in five games.
The Nets added Derrick Coleman in 1990 and Kenny Anderson in 1991, and New Jersey began to take shape as a perennial playoff team. Finishing 40-42 under Coach Bill Fitch, the Nets advanced to the postseason for the first time since 1986. Morris averaged 11.4 points as a dangerous weapon in the New Jersey frontcourt. He started 74 times in 77 appearances, contributing 6.4 rebounds and 1.68 steals per game. He shot .477 from the field and .714 from the free-throw line. Morris elevated his game in the postseason, averaging 18.8 points on .552 shooting from the field as the Nets lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a four-game first-round series.
Morris achieved the Nets' only triple-double of the 1990-91 season when he had 17 points, 14 rebounds, and a career-high 10 assists against the Magic at Orlando in the season's final game. It marked the first triple-double for the Nets since Lester Conner accomplished the feat three times in 1988-89. For the season, Morris averaged 13.2 points and 6.6 rebounds in 79 appearances. He ranked fourth on the team in scoring, fourth in rebounding, and second in steals (1.75 per game). He scored a season-high 32 points against the Bullets at Washington on February 13.
Morris had a stellar offensive year in a season that was anything but stellar for New Jersey. The Nets finished with the league's worst record, at 17-65, despite 14.8 points per game from their second-year small forward. Morris started in 76 of his 80 appearances, leading the Nets in three-point shooting (61-of-193) and ranking third in scoring and second in steals (1.63 per game). He scored a season-high 33 points against the Phoenix Suns on March 30, one of his 64 double-figure scoring efforts for the season.
Chris Morris entered the NBA with an impressive college rTsumT. At the time he left Auburn University, Morris ranked as the school's all-time leader in dunks and three-point field goals (he has since been passed in three-pointers by both Chuck and Wesley Person). As a senior, Morris led the Tigers in scoring (20.7 ppg), rebounding (9.8 rpg), steals (52), and blocks (39). He started 113 straight games for the Tigers and was a teammate of Chuck Person in his freshman and sophomore seasons. The New Jersey Nets selected Morris as the fourth overall pick of the 1988 NBA Draft, and the lanky rookie wasted no time making a name for himself in the NBA. He earned a spot on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team, finishing with 14.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Morris also competed in the Slam-Dunk Championship at the NBA All-Star Weekend, finishing eighth.
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