Memphis Grizzlies: 2019 NBA Draft grades

Photo by Melanie Fidler/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Melanie Fidler/NBAE via Getty Images /
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Photo by Melanie Fidler/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Melanie Fidler/NBAE via Getty Images /

No. 2 pick: Ja Morant

Ever since the night of the draft lottery, this was the pick for Memphis. Ja Morant was the second most exciting player in a draft class that included possibly the most exciting prospect (Zion Williamson) since LeBron James. Not too shabby.

The only question for Memphis and taking Morant was how he would fit with franchise point guard Mike Conley. That question was removed from the table on Wednesday morning when the team traded Conley to the Utah Jazz, signaling that Ja would be handed over the keys to the team as the starting point guard from day one.

Morant has immediately embraced the fanbase and the culture of Memphis basketball. He clearly already has off-court chemistry with last year’s No. 4 overall pick, Jaren Jackson Jr., who was in Brooklyn to celebrate with Morant.

Aside from being a media darling during the pre- and post-draft interviews, Morant will look to hit the ground running once the season begins since he won’t be participating in the NBA Summer League, as he told reporters on Thursday.

His college numbers at Murray State speak for themselves. He was the first player in NCAA history to average 20 points and 10 assists per game, putting up a stat line of 24.5 points, 10.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game during his sophomore season.

Morant’s biggest knock has been his shot from 3-point range, but he raised his numbers from 30.7 percent his freshman season to 36.3 percent this past year. He did so while also taking two more 3-point attempts per game. He has also shown promise shooting long range 3s, as writer Peter Edmiston of The Athletic points out:

Morant became famous for his in-game dunks during his freshman season and continued his viral video career this past year.

Ja Morant will most likely enter the 2019-20 season as the starting point guard alongside 2018-19 First Team All-Rookie selection, Jaren Jackson. There are still some key roster spots that will be determined over the next few weeks for Memphis, but expect to see Ja and JJJ running a few lobs to each other next season.

Grade: A+