Pass or Play: Are the Clippers Worth a Bet After Morris, Jackson Additions?


Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images. Pictured: Kawhi Leonard

Feb 24, 2020, 04:35 PM EST

The Los Angeles Clippers loaded up at the trade deadline and after.

The Clippers managed to trade for Marcus Morris, having a career year, mind you, from the Knicks for Moe Harkless and picks, and then picked up Reggie Jackson off the buyout market when the Pistons decided to fold up the tent and go home for the year.

These were considered big wins. But those moves should not spark you to feel like there is more value on them at +300 to win the title than there were before.

Subtraction by Addition

Marcus Morris Sr.  is a good player, having a great season. He’s shooting 43% from the field, and he averaged 18.7 points with New York, now 10 points per game with the Clippers, along with five boards. His catch-and-shoot percentages with the Knicks were ridiculous.

The idea is that Morris provides another sharpshooter to punish defenses for sending help at Kawhi Leonard and/or Paul George, and he enables a small-ball lineup at the 5, being able to play a hyper-switchable, high-defensive-IQ lineup that can all shoot.

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But there are complications, there. Morris is big, physical and aggressive, sometimes to a fault. His efforts to be physical can result in altercations that amp up emotional swings that can work for or against his team, and depending on the assignment, can mean fouls.

It’s difficult to analyze Morris’ defense on the Knicks, because, well, it’s the Knicks. But the numbers are poor. The Celtics’ defense last year was 6 points worse (per 100 possessions) with Morris on the floor. The Knicks’ defense was 1.9 points worse. It’s too early to tell anything good or bad with the Clippers.

Morris’s identity from anyone that’s covered him is “He’s a clutch player who will take clutch shots you absolutely do not want him taking.” It’s a good thing for a player to be ready to knock down a big shot. But when that’s how he is for all of his minutes on the floor, it can mean possessions that go outside of the ideal balance.