Our exit interview series at 213 Hoops continues with a look at the 2022 season of Clippers’ starting forward Marcus Morris.
Position: Small Forward/ Power Forward
Years in the NBA: 11
Key Stats: 15.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists in 29.0 minutes per game, with shooting splits of 43.4/ 36.7/ 87.2
For the first time in his LA Clippers tenure, Marcus Morris was going to have an opportunity to fully tap into his New York Knicks bag, a bag that made him a hot commodity at the 2019-20 trade deadline. Whether or not a 32-year-old Morris with worsening knees could consistently resemble that former version of himself was uncertain, but the hope outweighed the skepticism.
Such offensive firepower would be needed to help ease the sting of not having Kawhi Leonard’s production for much of, if not all of the 2021-22 season. In theory, Morris could provide a frequent boost for the Clippers’ offense, being used in some similar ways to Leonard — operating a ton out of the mid-post and utilizing his strengths as a 1-on-1 scorer.
The reality was that Marcus could not always be that player from the New York tenure who could consistently deliver as the primary scoring option. But in fairness, he also was never supposed to be that guy this season. Kawhi sat the entire campaign, PG missed most of the season and so did Norman Powell, which caused Morris’ usage to surge and his efficiency to tumble.
Let’s begin with the bad — Marcus was a bad defender and arguably an even worse rebounder. There were far too many nights where he failed to make an impact, or even an effort, on the glass, which oftentimes cost LA. This season more than any other, we could really see the impact of older age and wear on the body as his lack of explosion off the floor and physicality under the rim stuck out like a sore thumb.
But from an offensive lens, I personally couldn’t have asked for much more from him. While his shot diet wasn’t always great and his shooting ran hot and cold, I was rather pleased with how frequently he provided impactful scoring nights to help lift the Clippers. Morris also seemed to be a bit better as a playmaker when he was able to get downhill and create an advantage.
Nevertheless, I’ll ultimately remember the many good moments of Marcus’ 2021-22 season more than the frustrating ones. He made a ton of big shots throughout the year and played a role well enough to help put the Clippers on the brink of the NBA playoffs.
FUTURE WITH CLIPPERS
Many (myself included) assumed Marcus was on his way out when the Clippers acquired Robert Covington days ahead of the trade deadline. But he stayed, and it left the forward rotation very unsettled. The logjam at the position remains, as Covington recently re-upped with the Clippers and if Nic Batum returns they’ll be in the same boat. It feels like Morris (with his larger salary) may be on the move this off-season. We’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out.