Our staff roundtable grades continue with a look at Marcus Morris, the 2022 Clippers’ starting power forward for most of the season.
Kenneth Armstrong: B
When Marcus Morris shot well, the Clippers were much more likely to win: In wins, he shot 46% across the 2022 season (42% from three); in losses, he was just 40% (31% from three). Therefore—given that the Clippers were an average team this year—Marcus has to get an average grade, as our bellwether of success. To be fair, though, the games during which Marcus was ridiculously hot were pretty awesome. He’s such an old school scorer (mid-range shots from all angles, leaning into defenders to create space, generally unathletic), which is fun to watch when the shots are falling. But his bad habits are more annoying than his scoring is fun: He’s not a great rebounder, he is prone to earning technicals, and isn’t super active off the ball.
Ralston Dacanay: B
If you weren’t a fan of Marcus Morris Sr.’s game the last two seasons, this year likely didn’t help to change your mind much. On top of missing 15 of the first 17 games with left knee injury maintenance, shooting slightly below his career average from deep (36%) and having threes account for the smallest share of his overall shot selection in four seasons (H/T Andrew Greif), Morris Sr.’s physicality, defense and rebounding seemingly took some steps back this year. On the flip side, however, like Reggie Jackson, Morris Sr. was forced to shoulder an immense workload offensively, seeing his efficiency go out the window with his number continually being called on to make something happen. Additionally, like Reggie, Mook too had a number of nights in which he stepped up and either carried the team offensively or hit the dagger to notch dramatic wins throughout the year.
Ultimately, if this is the last we’ve seen of Morris Sr. in a Clipper jersey, there really aren’t any regrets to be had from this season for either side. Mook showcased just about what he can bring to the table at this point in his career both on and off the floor, with Tyronn Lue crediting him as a key voice in the locker room and leader for the team chemistry this year. From the Clippers’ standpoint, Robert Covington and Nicolas Batum clearly showed signs of how great they could be for next year’s potential reloaded run, perhaps to the point where Morris Sr. is simply the odd man out on a team stacked with talented wings. Personally, I wouldn’t mind Morris Sr. staying or being moved as he’s still an impactful player, so my thoughts in the case of the latter would definitely depend on the returning package.
Shapan Debnath: B
Mook played about as well as you could’ve reasonably expected him to play, without being unrealistic. After serious concerns about his knees were realized almost immediately this season, he bounced back well, shooting a decent 43.4/36.7/87.2, with a USG% of 23.2 being second in his career compared to his 24.4 in NYK. His defense was not good due to his slow feet and his rebounding remains atrocious, but his solid play last postseason on that end gives me enough hope that he could be serviceable enough when surrounded by the right guys. But Morris played himself from a negative asset to start the season to arguably a slightly positive one, and for a team filled with dynamic wings, it might be the best thing you could ask from him right now.
Cole Huff: B
I’ll shamelessly direct you all to the exit interview that I recently wrote on Morris to avoid being repetitive. Briefly, Morris was asked to play a larger role to begin the season with Kawhi being out, and then played an even larger role with Norman Powell and PG missing most of the season. He did well in those roles offensively and his scoring was often able to help the Clippers stay in and even win games. Defense was bad and rebounding was worse, but I won’t give him too much flak. He mostly met expectations this season and was a positive contributor.
Robert Flom: B-
Marcus Morris had a perfectly fine 2022 season. He had a scoring average in the mid-teens on decent efficiency, adding spacing to lineups that sometimes needed it, and was a leader in the locker room. The scoring was maybe not what Clippers fans may have hoped for compared to his sizzling start to the 2020 season with the Knicks, but that was a couple years ago, and Morris has slowed since then. The biggest issue for Morris is on the other end – he’s fallen from above-average defender to below-average, and his rebounding (or lack thereof) was frequently catastrophic. The Clippers have two better complementary forwards on the roster in Nic Batum (if re-signed) and Robert Covington, opening the door for a Morris trade. Morris has mostly played well enough as a Clipper, but the trade for him 2.5 years ago to establish him as the 3rd scorer in LA did not pan out quite that way.