LA Clippers in review: Marcus Morris Sr. disappoints as starter

Marcus Morris Sr., LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Marcus Morris Sr., LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

LA Clippers’ Marcus Morris Sr. boasts the makings of an enticing asset on a championship-contending team — a 6-foot-8, 218-pound frame, shot-creating dexterity and decades-long experience.

But what we got instead was a fast-declining, bootless star of the past.

Once flaunting an impressive 47.3 percent hit rate from three in the 2020-21 season, Morris was not the same dead-eye shot-maker he used to be. If anything, he wasn’t even a consistent shooter from behind the arc: he connected on just 36.4 percent of his shots from long range this season.

In the two final months of the regular season, his three-point conversion rate continued to plummet, reaching 28 percent in March, then a season-low 16.7 percent in April. In a similar vein, the power forward’s field goal percentages fell below the 40 percent mark in the final three months of the season.

But Tyronn Lue, to many’s surprises, continued to give the veteran major minutes. After a month-long hiatus due to a back injury, Lue quickly placed Morris into the rotation and back into the starting rotation for the first-round matchup against the Phoenix Suns.

Lue defended his decision by highlighting the feisty forward’s success playing against Phoenix in general. He also said of this decision, “If they put small guys like Booker or CP on him, he can post at times.”

And there was some truth to Lue’s words.

Marcus Morris, at his peak, was a star for the LA Clippers.

Again, when at his best, Marcus Morris can be a matchup headache on the LA Clippers. Against smaller wing players, the veteran forward can use his size and strength to will himself into a position in which he can score with ease. And with a big man on him, his quick-release jumper and handles gift Morris the luxury of facing up and knocking down a jump-shot.

But there’s always a catch. Morris was nowhere close to the level he used to perform at when he first arrived in Los Angeles — not to mention, he has been sidelined for close to a month.

So, despite Lue’s continued belief and praise of the shot-making big man, Morris was mediocre at best. In the three games (all losses) he played in the playoffs, he tallied underwhelming averages of 8.7 points on 34.5 percent shooting and four rebounds. A hideous conclusion to an already ugly season.

The numbers — as bad as they may be — don’t tell the entire story, however.

Morris isn’t just missing shots and occasionally scoring 10 or so points a night. When he is on the floor, the veteran forward loves to have the ball in his hands. He is not a selfless, rapid-shooting sharpshooter like former Clipper Luke Kennard, nor is he one to create chances by tenaciously cutting and popping like a younger Terance Mann.

Instead, he is a ball-dominant player, who doesn’t quite have the jaw-dropping résumé of Kawhi Leonard or the razzle-dazzle of Paul George. Not to mention, he can’t quite make the flashy passes like Russell Westbrook or Mason Plumlee — in close to 70 minutes of post-season play, Morris failed to log a single assist.

As such, not only does he detract from the ball movement of the team, but he also is perhaps taking shots other players should be taking instead. Morris isn’t great enough of an offensive threat to be constantly sizing and posting up against defenders in isolation, especially with two superstars on the floor.

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Sure, Morris has been a key part of this organization in the past few years. He has sweated a ton, scored a ton and won a ton for the Clippers. But, as it stands, the 33-year-old’s future in Los Angeles is to be questioned.