The trade deadline is this week and that can only mean one thing. Crank up the trade machine and see how you can improve the team — realistically, of course.
Whether it’s Duncan Robinson having a down year or you simply don’t like Robinson and never wanted to give him a big contract, he’s part of many, many trade proposals. In part, that does make sense — he must be involved in any significant trades to make the money work.
One of the trade proposals is for Los Angeles Clippers forward Marcus Morris. And from seeing what Twitter thinks, there isn’t any definite answer. Both players help a team in a different way and both have their weaknesses.
But does a Morris-Robinson make sense for the Miami Heat? To answer that, two things must be considered — what exactly does Morris bring? And how would that impact the rotations, roles, schemes?
What does Morris bring?
Do you see what Robinson does? Well, what Morris does is entirely different, but this also depends on the role he’s asked to do.
What Morris has shown this season is capable of adapting to what the team needs and he does what is needed well. There are two roles on offense that he can effectively play: complement the stars by knocking down catch-and-shoot shots or go get a bucket in the mid-range. And both these roles would be key for the Heat.
Let’s start with the first role.
If you have a team where both your top-two players aren’t a threat from the outside, then you need shooters around them. This is the reason why having a shooter like Robinson was vital for their offense.
Morris isn’t the exact type of shooter Robinson is, where he’s on the move, running dribble-hand-offs, or pulling-up. He’s more of a PJ Tucker type, but more diverse.
Over the past 3 seasons, he's been one of the best C&S guys in the league— John Jablonka (@JohnJablonka_) February 6, 2022
20: 42.5% on 3.6 3s
21: 49.8% on 4.5 - per BBall Index that ranks 95th percentile
22: 39.5% on 4.3
Although I don't believe he will go back to his last year #, he still is around that 39-42% pic.twitter.com/oWoKAT4FKM
As you can see, he has been deadly from the outside when it comes to catch-and-shoot. Although it is highly unlikely that he will go back to his almost 50% shooting, he is still one of the best shooters in the league. Per BBall-Index, in the last two seasons, he has ranked in the 97th and 99th percentile in 3pt shot-making.
In addition to him simply waiting for the shot around the perimeter, he can also be used as a pick-and-pop threat where he is shooting 36.4% on above-the-break 3.
It should be noted about his dip in 3pt efficiency that he’s taking worse quality shots mainly because both the Clippers offensive stars are out. Here, he would be back sharing the court with other stars and his role on offense will be more similar to Tucker’s.
This season, however, his role has been quite different. Firstly, he has been tasked with more responsibilities — per BBall-Index, increased his touches from 34.9 to 40.4, increased his scoring possessions from 16.9 to 19.8, and increased his total offensive load from 25.1 to 30.7.
The main difference in his game is where he gets his shots from. In the first two seasons with the LA Clippers, 51.7% (62.5% assisted) and 49.3% (45.6% assisted) of his field-goal attempts (FGA) were 2s. This season, 59.5% of his FGA are 2s, but what’s more impressive is only 27.6% are assisted, which is a career-low.
So, not only is he asked to not be simply a catch-and-shoot guy, but he is also creating his shots more frequently. And the shots he can create are in the mid-range.
Let's go deeper into his mid range creation - as that is his best trait arguably— John Jablonka (@JohnJablonka_) February 6, 2022
20: 113/254 (44.5%)
21: 71/149 (47.7%)
22: 58/127 (45.7%)
To put his # with some context this season - 4% higher than Herro on higher volume, > CJ, Tatum, LaVine, Jimmy, Bron
If there is one thing Morris can do it’s knock down tough mid-range shots efficiently. What’s impressive is that these shots come from isolation. Per BBall-Index, he has 7.1 isolation possessions per 75, which would rank in the 96th percentile. This has also been shown to translate in the playoffs. In the last two playoffs with the Clippers, he’s shooting similarly on those mid-range shots.
This isn’t to say Morris is some elite isolation scorer. He is only in the 56th percentile in isolation effective field goal% (eFG%) and is in the 34th percentile in turnover%.
Another great aspect of his offensive game is working in the post-up.
Another part of his game is his post ups— John Jablonka (@JohnJablonka_) February 6, 2022
Combined with his deadly mid range, he is great in the post especially vs a mismatch
He's in the 90th percentile in post freq + 92nd in post impact + 81st in post points per possession pic.twitter.com/cr0tlPZwA5
There are still, however, some flaws in his game. For one, he's a poor finisher at the rim — he doesn’t drive often, rarely makes the pass, has 48% adjusted FG at the rim, and ranks in the 15th percentile in finishing at the rim.
When it comes to his playmaking, there’s a bit of a concern there. After going through his 64 assists, 39 were what I deemed simple passes that created no advantage. These were making a normal pass and the guy did all the moves to score, but it still counted as an assist. Most of these were also swing passes, which does show he has got good decision-making and a good reaction to make that extra pass for an open shooter.
There were some flashes of solid playmaking, particularly in the post.
Working in the post vs a smaller guy, which he's quite good at— John Jablonka (@JohnJablonka_) February 5, 2022
Notices the help on Zubac and makes good read for the skip pass
Quite quickly too pic.twitter.com/crDHwT2q5E
These were the kind of passes he can make. Get in the post, draw that extra defensive attention, notice any kind of help, and make that skip pass. These are, however, occasional reads.
There were many times when he settled for a tough shot instead of making the right pass for a better shot, whether that is because he doesn’t see the pass being there or if he simply ignores it.
Here, he again decides to take a worse tougher shot where the pass was right there— John Jablonka (@JohnJablonka_) February 6, 2022
FVV is already waiting at the nail, his man cuts and OG is now left with a 2v1
He could have made the pass to Coffey first or as OG lifted, make the skip pass to Reggie pic.twitter.com/sezUtXfC1P
This type of play has been common this season, but the good sign is the defensive attention being there in the first place.
As far as his defense, I wouldn’t say it’s great nor is it bad — several impact metrics also would have him around average or just below average. One of his defensive strengths would be his defensive versatility. Per BBall-Index, he is in the 98th percentile in defensive positional versatility.
How does this impact Miami?
Now that we know what Morris brings to the team through his strengths, weaknesses, and the role he plays, we need to see how he would fit in Miami.
His role would most likely be the same as he has in L.A. There would be times when he is needed for his complementary role when he’s on the court with the stars.
And is there a better player to pair with Butler and Adebayo than a guy who is a 40% plus shooter on catch-and-shoot 3s? Here’s a fun stat when it comes to Morris plus other stars. In the two seasons with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, per PBP Stats, the three on the court have an 18.9 net rating and a 126.4 offensive rating in 773 minutes.
I don’t think there is any concern with Morris’ fit on the team with the stars.
However, there would also be times when he is needed for his tough shot-making. Morris would most likely be coming off the bench and have a similar role on offense as he does currently. And this would be a huge positive for the Heat.
Per PBP Stats, in games where both Butler and Lowry played, when they are off the court, the Heat have a 91.0 offensive rating. It is a small sample size with only 70 min played. However, if you include all the other games, the team’s offensive rating is 108.4 in 539 minutes, which is still lower than usual. These stats are also similar when it’s Tyler Herro on the court without those two.
It is clear that the offense gets significantly worse without Butler and Lowry or when Herro is on his own.
He would significantly improve the bench’s offense alongside Herro. Both players are capable of playing on and off the ball. Both are deadly in the mid-range or from the perimeter. And both would work with each other to take that scoring pressure off of one another.
It should also be noted of Erik Spoelstra’s magic. Look at what he did with PJ Tucker. Even look at Markieff Morris early in the season. Maybe Morris would also be used more as a facilitator in the post with Herro? He has shown that he is capable of those reads.
On the other hand, who would replace Robinson in the lineup? Is it Max Strus? Caleb Martin? Is that plus Morris off the bench better than the current rotation? How significant a role would Morris play in the playoffs?
The fit is right there and the impact Morris would have is a huge positive. The only concern here is whether all of this outweigh what Robinson brings. From a pure basketball perspective regardless of Robinson being moved, this would be a perfect fit, but it doesn’t quite work like that.