Credit: NCAA

Ja Morant Draft Profile

Breaking down the NBA potential of Ja Morant

Soph. 6’3″ 170 Point Guard Murray St. DOB: 8/10/99
24.5 ppg 5.7 rpg 10 apg FG: 49.9% 3 PT: 36.3%

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Recruiting Profile

Wingspan: 6’7″ 

Vertical Leap: 44″

NBA Comparison: Russell Westbrook/De’Aaron Fox

Strengths: Shot Creation, Passing, Speed, Quickness, Athleticism

Weaknesses: Efficiency, Turnovers, Level of Competition, Strength

Morant was not ranked by most recruiting services, and although he had a promising freshman season averaging 12.7 points and 6.3 assists per game, there were not many predicting the meteoric rise in his draft stock this season. He exploded as a sophomore finishing with averages of 24.5 points and 10 assists per game, cementing himself as one of the top players in college basketball. His athleticism is the first thing that jumps off of the page when you look at his 44 inch vertical leap, and he used it to throw down some of the most memorable dunks of the season. It is not just his ability to finish at the rim, but his speed in the open court makes him a nightmare defensive assignment and on fast breaks he should be able to be effective from day one. He can jump and also has elite speed, however his lateral quickness also will be at the top of the league and he will have no problem getting by defenders using his quickness. When you project his athleticism as a whole to the professional level, he will immediately be one of the best athletes in the league and his physical tools are at the top end of all players in the draft. In college Morant had the ball in his hands most of the game, not only creating shots on the fast break but also in the half court with a variety of moves off of the dribble. He has shown off floaters, step backs, and a nasty crossover that translate well to getting off shots in the NBA. Morant can pull up for a jumper, or use his athleticism to get by a defender and finish around the basket, with the sophomore projected to be able to do those at a high level as a professional. His passing ability gets lost at times with the number of highlight dunks he has had, but he was arguably the best passer in college last season, and he should be a high level passer in the league. As a defender he could struggle early on with the increased level of talent in the NBA as opposed to the college game, however he has the measurements and physical tools that should allow him to become an effective perimeter defender as a pro.  

The lack of competition is always a concern with a mid major prospect, and there will no doubt be an adjustment playing against the best players in the world, however he has shown against bigger schools that he can dominate a game regardless of the competition. His jump shot is the major question mark in his game, and there will need to be improvement in this area going forward for him to reach his ceiling as a professional. With that said his three point numbers at 35.3% are not terrible, and it was an improvement up from 30.7% as a freshman, but he still is not entirely comfortable as a shooter. While his 81.3% free throw percentage is solid and gives hope to teams that he can become an efficient shooter, he shot just 39.1% on two point jump shots, adding more mystery to his shooting future. His shooting motion is a bit rigid at times and he will need more reps to become a fluid shooter, but with the other parts of his game being as strong as they are he will be given time to get this area of his game to its potential. When you are as fast and athletic as Morant is, it is easy at times to just beat defenders down the court or get by them in the half court using his quickness,  but that will become much more difficult at the next level. He will need to do a better job of picking his spots of when to go all out in the open court, or when to slow it down and play with more patience. Turning the ball over is somewhat of a concern with teams looking at Morant, however any player that had the ball in his hands and was asked to make the plays that he was is going to have some bad decisions in the mix. This should improve over time, and as he gets a feel for the NBA game he has the ability to protect the basketball with more efficiency. Morant will need to add strength to deal with not only finishing through contact, but the 82 game NBA season, however it will not be a major concern going forward with his open court abilities being the strongest aspect of his game. All of the tools are there for Morant to be a highly successful professional, and as long as he improves his jump shot and keeps the turnovers down, he has a chance to become an all star caliber point guard.  

Here is an example of his ridiculous athleticism:

This play shows how he can create a shot off of the dribble with a step back jumper:

Morant is viewed as a top three talent in the class and the Grizzlies are expected to take him at #2. His ceiling as a professional is a starter level point guard reaching an all star level, being an elite play maker both scoring and assisting teammates. The worst case scenario for Morant is that he is unable to shoot the ball efficiently enough to reach an all star level, but he is still able to be a starter level point guard scoring with his athleticism and facilitating, receiving major minutes.  

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