Ja Morant's 2019 NBA Draft Scouting Report: Analysis of Grizzlies Pick

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJune 20, 2019

Murray State's Ja Morant (12) during the first half of a second round men's college basketball game in the NCAA tournament, Saturday, March 23, 2019, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Jessica Hill/Associated Press

The Memphis Grizzlies have selected Ja Morant with the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NBA draft. 

The explosive point guard flew below the radar as a freshman at Murray State, but he made himself impossible to miss this past season. As a sophomore, Morant became the only NCAA player in at least 25 years to average at least 20 points and 10 assists. As eye-opening as his stats were, Morant's flashes of athleticism and ball skills led Memphis to rank him as the draft's best prospect behind Zion Williamson.


Quick hitters

Size: 6'3"

Weight: 175 pounds



Pro player comparison: De'Aaron Fox


Offensive strengths

Morant led the country in both assists and transition points, which is a tribute to his vision and speed with the ball. He's shifty off the dribble, is an explosive two-foot leaper in the paint and is a high-level passer using either hand. He projects as an elite setup man, although he also averaged 24.5 points mostly by creating open-floor scoring chances and driving to the basket. Morant did make progress this year with his jump shot, doubling his three-point total to 57 makes in 33 games, but shooting remains a key swing skill he'll need to keep improving.


Offensive weaknesses

Morant's 1.9 threes per 40 minutes and 32.1 percent mark on pull-ups suggest he still has room to develop his jumper. He doesn't generate much elevation, and his release is on the low side. He made two mid-range jump shots all season. Morant also averaged 5.2 turnovers per game, as he was unable to resist the urge to make high-risk plays. He became careless with his dribble and decisions at times, too. 


Defensive outlook

Morant's quickness and athleticism translated to exciting defensive playmaking. He averaged 1.9 steals per 40 minutes and blocked 27 shots, an impressive number for a point guard. But at 175 pounds, he was easy to eliminate with ball screens. His effort died too easily when he fought through picks, and he wasn't always focused defending away from the ball.


Rookie-year projection

If the Grizzlies give Morant the keys to their offense early, he'll be a threat to challenge for the top five in assists as a rookie. His special ability to break down defenses and find the open man should carry right over in the NBA, particularly with better teammates compared to Murray State. However, he won't be able to slice to the rim as easily, and his scoring efficiency is bound to take a hit without a reliable jump shot. 


Projected role: Quality NBA starter/All-Star potential

Morant moves like De'Aaron Fox and distributes like Trae Young and Rajon Rondo. Whether he reaches All-Star status will come down to his shooting development, which will affect his scoring upside. At worst, he'll settle into the league as a middle-tier starter among point guards, valued for the pressure he puts on defenses and his signature playmaking. At best, he'll follow in Russell Westbrook's footsteps, becoming dangerous around the perimeter and emerging as one of the game's most dynamic offensive players.


Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports Reference.