NBA Draft Profile: Ja Morant

Pranav Ramasubramanian | June 20th, 2019

The Toronto Raptors dethroned the Golden State Warriors in six games to take the NBA Championship, but there is still another NBA event that people can look forward to. The 2019 NBA Draft will be happening on Thursday and it will either revive a franchise back to its glory or give them more balls at next year’s lottery. The consequence of the one and done era is that top basketball prospects are leaving school after just one year, here’s a look at one who stayed for two!

Player: Ja Morant

Position: Point Guard

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 175 pounds

College: Murray State

2019 shooting percentages

Two-points shots              Free-throws               Three-point shots                                      Total

55.6%                                   81.3%                           36.3%                                                          49.9%

His game translates…

Teammates are important to a team’s success and being able to find them in the right spots on the court for open looks is challenging, but Morant does it very effortlessly. Morant reads coverages with his high basketball IQ helping him run the pick and roll with ease finding the open or cutting man for a good shot attempt giving his teammates confidence leading to good teammate chemistry. He can also throw lobs, no-look passes, outlet passes in transition, bounce passes in the open court and left-hand hook passes to teammates after drawing defenders into him with his great ball-handling skills. Morant uses pace and rhythm to find his offense and is a natural playmaker as he uses a great set of dribble moves to weave through double teams or even triple teams to finish strong at the rim so he needs keep playing at the same speed to keep scoring with the same efficiency in the NBA. When you attract mismatches it’s usually a bad thing for the smaller player, but Morant can attract the big men out of the paint and attack the gaps well with good wiggle moves while changing direction to get downhill for a shot attempt or great pass so the constant movement helps the flow of the offense. It always helps to be alert and when Morant runs transition he makes sure to look up for the ball so he can catch it to score in stride and he shouldn’t hesitate or else his shot will likely get blocked in the NBA.

The ball constantly being in Morant’s hands is fine, but sometimes he tries to force too much action turning the ball over so he needs to stay calm when the passing lanes are clogged and let the play develop or else he could really unsettle the whole team. The three-point shooting from Morant is getting a lot of better especially when the right screens are set, but his midrange game is non-existent so he needs to work with NBA shooting coaches to fix it to help him sustain energy throughout the long season and not have to be so dependent on his speed. Morant also has trouble finishing in the paint when the big men get switched onto him and he attempts to use a glide attack to counter it, but he ends up missing the shot badly so Morant should look to pass in those situations to give the Grizzlies a better chance at winning games. The offensive responsibilities were so much for Morant that he was stationary on defense and mostly guarded players that weren’t really perimeter threats to conserve energy and in the NBA you can’t hide Morant as consistently so Morant will need to figure out how to limit airspace despite his thin frame. When Morant does decide to give effort he gambles for a steal and doesn’t make the smart play of just staying close to his defender to prevent the open shot, which NBA players will expose for easy baskets. The best quality that Morant has is that he feeds off of negative energy and uses it to fuel his game as he is a fiery competitor so the extra attention from being an NBA player won’t bother him at all.

Draft Meter: High

The national spotlight was off of Morant for most of the year because he was playing at Murray State and many scouts believed his performances were a by-product of his weak competition, but Morant shut them all up by putting up a triple-double in the Round of 64 against Marquette proving that he can put up big performances against any competition.

Morant even wants to make sure he is very healthy so he went through a minor arthroscopic procedure on his right knee to remove loose bodies in that area of his body, which should only keep him out 3 to 4 weeks making him available opening night. The injury hasn’t deterred his draft status as the Grizzlies have made it clear that they are locked in at taking him at No.2. The Grit and Grind era is officially over with the trade of Mike Conley yesterday and the Grizzlies want to hand the entire team over to Morant because they know that if they give him full freedom that with his offensive skill set he can take the Grizzlies to places they’ve never been before. Morant will have to deal with wily veterans and youth so its good that he has great leadership skills so he can keep everything under control and help Memphis operate smoothly on offense. The defensive side of the ball could get better for Morant and if he can improve that then he can bring the Grizzlies out of the NBA oblivion and have a Hall of Fame career.

Prediction: Ja Morant gets drafted in the first round by the Memphis Grizzlies as the 2nd overall pick.

Read our other Draft Profiles: Brandon Clarke|R.J. Barrett|Zion Williamson|

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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