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Clippers In Review: Should Marcus Morris return?

A big question mark lies ahead for the third-year Clipper.

New Orleans Pelicans v LA Clippers - Play-In Tournament Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to Clippers In Review, where we’ll recapping the season for every player that ended the season in Los Angeles. Next up is the team’s tough fighting forward, Marcus Morris Sr.

The 2019-20 Clippers, led by two of the league’s best two-way players in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, were widely regarded as favorites to win it all. Add a veteran forward averaging close to 20 points shooting close to 44 percent from deep to the mix, the team looked unstoppable.

They weren’t, though: the Denver Nuggets handed them an early exit from the playoffs that year.

The following season, we expected and got more from the Clippers. And of the many players that had breakout seasons, it was Marcus Morris Sr. that flourished under Tyronn Lue’s prudence. He was a prolific sixth man to start the season and ended it as a solid third option, capable of scoring whenever and wherever. He finished the season averaging 13.4 points shooting 47 percent both from the field and long-range — he was the second most efficient three-point shooter in the league.

But things weren’t quite the same for Morris this season.

Sure, he did score an improved 15.4 points per contest. But the numbers don’t tell the entire story. In the absence of George, he had a greater role in the team’s offense, a role that he struggled to fulfill. His efficiency numbers from the field suffered a steep drop — most notably, his three-point percentage dropped by more than 10 percent to a much less impressive 36.7 percent.

His shooting slump ultimately held him back from being as lethal of a weapon as he can be. His struggles exacerbated after the All-Star break as he found himself having intermittent scoring droughts, unable to convert from his go-to face up moves and threes from the 45. He finished the season scoring just 111.1 points per 100 shot attempts, which puts him at the behind most big’s in the league.

That’s not to say this season was just a downhill ride for Morris. If anything, there were moments that showed why the team brought in the tough-fighting forward in the first place.

To Lue and the Clippers, Morris is more than just a scorer. He is a versatile big man who gives the team the flexibility of going small and beating teams behind the three-point line. Much like his former teammate Patrick Beverley, he’s also a gritty athlete on defense, willing and capable of taking on tough defensive assignments, whether that’d be a shifty wing or a seven-foot center. Just as important is his shot-creating ability: he is a capable scorer that often uses his size and dead-eye jumper to put points up when the team’s offense is stagnant.

While this can mean holding onto Morris is the path the Lawrence Frank and the Clippers should take, there’s more than just basketball. A financial decision — whether the Clips will pay Morris his $16.3 million next year or trade him — lies ahead for the front office. And as much as bringing everybody back may be a compelling choice for the team, team success should be the key priority. It’s a business, after all.