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Why the Clippers’ lineup change helped Marcus Morris thrive

When Clippers forward Nicolas Batum learned last month that his starting job now belonged to Marcus Morris, and a role off the bench awaited, he had every reason to think about what it would mean for himself.

For a player about to reach free agency this summer, life in the starting lineup had been very good. Few in the NBA this season had benefited more from the attention drawn by star teammates than Batum. With defenders glued to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, 43% of Batum’s shots in 37 games as a starter came with his closest defender more than six feet away — and he had made 52% of those wide-open looks.