Ja Morant wasn’t a big-time recruit out of Dalzell, S.C., but has shot up the draft boards and appears headed to the Memphis Grizzlies as the heir apparent to franchise icon Mike Conley at the point guard spot.
He played two seasons at Murray State and blew up as a sophomore, averaging 24.5 points, 10.0 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 36.6 minutes per game, shooting 49.9 percent overall and 36.3 percent from 3-point range.
Morant helped the Racers to an upset of Marquette in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before they were ousted by Florida State in the second round.
Morant compares to Sacramento Kings’ rising star De’Aaron Fox and, much like Fox, he will have a lot of improving to do at the NBA level in terms of forcing passes and drives that simply aren’t there.
Morant averaged 5.2 turnovers per game at Murray State last season and that is an unsustainable rate at the next level.
That said, there is an awful lot to like about the 6-foot-3 playmaker. His length gives him terrific versatility on defense and he offers a great combination of speed, toughness and explosion off the jump.
His 3-point stroke could use a little refinement, but that could be said for nearly every player in every draft since the 3-pointer was instituted in the NBA 40 years ago.