Rookie wing Jaylen Morris suffered an ankle injury against the Bulls on March 11, hours after the Hawks had signed him to a second 10-day contract. He wouldn’t play again this season, but the Hawks signaled their desire to keep him around for the summer by signing him to a non-guaranteed contract for 2018-19.
Morris played just 98 minutes for the Hawks but flashed defensive potential during that brief stint. After Morris had played just two games for the Hawks ex-coach Mike Budenholzer praised him for his lateral quickness and toughness on defense.
When Morris signed with the Hawks, he said play-making and driving to the basket were his strengths along with his defense. Morris attempted more than half of his 22 two-pointers at the rim and made six of 12 tries in that range. However, Morris’ poor three-point shooting in college and the G League followed him to the NBA, where he made 2 of 10 tries, and he committed six turnovers along with seven assists.
Morris got his NBA shot after playing at Division II Molloy College then getting selected by Erie in the second round of the G League draft. His limited offensive game means that defense most likely is his ticket to staying in the league.
Morris will compete for a roster spot with at least one other Hawks wing with a non-guaranteed deal, Antonius Cleveland. Cleveland has more size than Morris and showed more promise as a scorer in college and in the G League.