There is something new about Moses Morgan.
December 9, 2017
He was still playing for the Saigon Heat as he did last season. He was still donning the number 7 jersey, a change which he had already made since last season. He was still launching three-pointers with ease during warmups. He was still throwing down tomahawk dunks in layup lines with author—
Moses Morgan is a talented player, there’s no denying that. But his years in the ABL have never depicted him as an uber-atheltic player. To see him suddenly bounce up for powerful slams during warmups now gave you a sense that there was something new.
And once you took a closer look, something really had changed with Moses Morgan. He was leaner and his muscles had more tone and definition.
“The first thing after the last season that I wanted to do was to improve my body,” Morgan says. “Because your body is basically your engine. I was obviously overweight [coming into last season]. I was at 240 pounds and I lost 23 pounds just so that I could maximize myself to be able to be in the condition to play the way I wanted to play.”
It had been a rough sophomore season in the ABL for Moses Morgan. Both himself and the team agreed to terms nearly halfway through the campaign and the time gap between his rookie year and sophomore debut was enough to throw him off-track and got him — in his own words — overweight.
“I still had an impact on the team but just within myself and seeing how it was and how I looked on film, it just didn’t sit well with me.” Morgan said. “Right after the season, I was like ‘I gotta change’.”
So Moses Morgan went to work.
Here’s a spoiler for anyone who has never tried to lose weight: it ain’t easy.
“It was very difficult,” Morgan said. “One of the things I had to do was I had to change the way I was eating. Then I was working out early like 6 in the morning.”
“It was very tough because of my trainer, too. He’s real tough so just all those things combined. Eating right, getting up early in the offseason, running, lifting, and then at night going and doing things with my mentor, Jamal Riley… so it was tough but I had to do it.”
“I know it’d help regardless of the situation [with the Saigon Heat] whether it was Coach Kyle [Julius] or whoever was coming in.”
New Head Coach of the Saigon Heat, Kyle Julius, had really turned the Heat around this season. The Heat now play at a breakneck pace, moving the ball around to create efficient three-point shots, making them one of the best offensive teams in the league.
They also are one of the peskiest defensive teams in the league, forcing the a second-best 16.4 turnovers per game with a line up that can virtually switch up on all defensive assignments.
At the center of these transformations under Kyle Julius is Moses Morgan. Not only his physical improvements over the off-season, but the role that both he and Coach Julius envisioned together.
“I had a lot of one on one time with him,” Morgan exaplined. “We did a lot of individual work on a lot of things that he wanted me to do within our offense. Off the bounce stuff, attacking the rim, the three pointer — just being more consistent with the three pointer. Shooting while I’m tired, working out while I’m tired.”
“So this offseason, when he was going through making the changes that he wanted to do with the team, I spent a lot of one on one time with him.”
“I think that was one of the reasons — me losing weight, being more athletic, being able to move, and just that time with Coach Kyle — why I’m more improved this season.”
We’ll let the numbers speak for themselves about Moses Morgan’s improvement. He’s averaging career-highs in almost every major statistical category and doing so at a more efficient rate than ever.
19.6 PPG (Career-High)
7.7 RPG (Career-High)
1.5 SPG (Career-High)
43.8 3P% (Career-High)
46.2 FG% (Career-High)
More impressively, the increased production is coming from Morgan playing a position he’s not famliar with.
“When he first told me like ‘Yeah, you’re gonna play the four’, I was like ‘ooh, I gotta guard a 4 and maybe a 5, depending on [the situation]’ but when he broke it down to me about his system and how it’d help me and how it’d be a mismatch on the other end, I was okay.”
Morgan is now set in a role where he forces bigger players to come out of the paint if they are assigned to guard him and he can bully smaller player in the paint if that situation arise. If the opposing team decides to rotate someone who won’t get give up much to Morgan, it usually creates other mismatches for either Maxie Esho or Akeem Scott.
“He told me how he envisioned me playing, with bigger and slower players guarding me out on the perimeter and being able run with me to my advantage offensively. Then defensively, it was just different schemes and stuff that he wanted me to do.”
“He wanted to have a faster team and it just made sense.”
The shift in Morgan’s role as the centerpiece of Coach Julius’ mismatch heaven has not been easy. The changes Morgan has had to go through both physically and tactically on the court has taken plenty of effort but it’s looked like a seamless transition just because of how much better prepared he has been this season.
“I think just the experience aspect of it,” Morgan says. “Just knowing what to expect and just being confident.”
“First year, I didn’t know what to expect.”
“Second year, I came in a bit late.
“This year, I had a full offseason. I was able to do the things that I wanted to do with my body on the court and off the court and it just built confidence in me.”
March 3, 2018
There was a sense of anticipation in the air for the Saigon Heat fans. The team had been playing on the road ever since the start of 2018 and they were finally returning for their first home game of the calendar year.
More than that, they were also expecting Moses Morgan to return back into action. Morgan had been out with a hyper-extended knee for 2 games, the most recently being a beatdown at the hands of the Singapore Slingers.
Was Morgan’s return going to get the Saigon Heat back to their groove?
Was he ready to play? Was he 100% healthy?
Morgan didn’t try anything spectacular during warmups. He wasn’t leapfrogging into powerful slams in the layup lines. There was yet to be a reassuring sign for the fans that indeed Moses Morgan was “back”.
But it didn’t take long for him to be in the game to make his case.
In the first quarter alone, Morgan dropped three three-pointers to get the Heat up ahead over the CLS Knights. He finished the game satisfied and well-rested on the bench, after compiling 30 points and raining a 8 threes, both career-highs.
Just as he was coming into the season, Morgan had come into this game with his body and mind well-prepared.
“I had a good week of practice — not just making shots — but getting a lot of good work after practice and before practice,” He says. “That gave me a lot of confidence. Once I got to see a few falling, with my legs and everything being there, I was okay.”
The fans mob Moses Morgan after the game. It’s his third season with the Heat and he’s poured his heart and soul out for the team, the city, and the fans. He’s dedicated enough time and energy to deserve this shower of love from the Heat faithful.
And that’s why he’s still not satisfied with where he’s at, even through all the career-high numbers being set over the season. He can’t be satisfied with it because he wants a whole lot more.
“You know me man, as long as we are winning,” Morgan says as fans continue to crowd around him. “You know what I’m saying? I’m just happy that I’m able to contribute and I just wanted to win.”
“Definitely not satisfied. We wanna win. I wanna win,” Morgan emphasizes. “I wanna win a championship. There’s things that I can always improve on.
“I’m happy with giving myself the opportunity to go out there the way I’m playing, but that’s the way it should be and definitely not satisfied.”