Draft Lead

Is Ja Morant Top 5 Pick Worthy?

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College Basketball is off to a fast start. With conference play coming up, some NBA prospects are starting to make a name for themselves. However, one prospect who has really jumped onto the NBA radar, despite playing in the rather small Ohio Valley Conference, has been Murray State point guard Ja Morant. Morant has stood out as a bright spot in a draft class that is relatively weak in the point guard category. He is currently averaging 23 points along with 9.6 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game. While Morant is the enjoying a breakout season for the Racers, his draft stock continues to rise. Once viewed as a mid-to-late lottery pick, Morant could now find himself as a top five, or even a top three draft pick come June. So, is Ja Morant top five pick worthy?

Strengths

Morant is tremendous at getting to the hoop, as he has tremendous speed and is a terror in transition. He also gets to the line at a reasonable rate, attempting roughly seven free throws a game while shooting 78% from the charity stripe. Also, Morant feasts off of backdoor cuts, which lead to a crafty layup or thunderous dunk. Morant has also displayed some defensive chops this year, as he is currently averaging two steals per game. As a play-maker, Morant does a great job drawing defenders and kicking the ball out for an easy bucket. His blend of size, speed, and athleticism are the things that stick out from his game. Ja also has played extremely well against non-conference opponents. Morant dropped 38 points, nine rebounds and five assists against Alabama. He continued the tremendous play against Auburn, chipping in 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Weaknesses

While Morant has many positives to his game, the negatives that come with it are as equally important. Ja is currently shooting only 29% from downtown this year, which is down from his average of 31% from last year. There also tends to be stretches where Morant takes plays off defensively. Morant also needs to work on holding onto the ball, as he is currently averaging 4.8 turnovers per game this season. This was shown during the Racers’ game against Alabama. Morant posted a poor assist-to-turnover ratio — 2:1 — resulting in him having 10 turnovers for the game. He needs to add on weight as well– 175 pounds won’t be enough to succeed at the professional level.

The Verdict

It is hard to compare another top point guard in the draft to Morant. The closest point guard being Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland, but he is out the rest of the season with a meniscus injury. Morant is also at the disadvantage of playing in a smaller conference, where he won’t get as much media recognition. However, with that being said, Morant has all the makings of being a star point guard in the NBA. He has the perfect combination of athleticism, speed, and size. Once he can add about 25-30 pounds, Morant would be have the proper body needed for the NBA. Morant compares to Sacramento Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox. Fox had a solid, not great rookie season, but this year has exploded onto the NBA scene. Both players have similar games, they struggle to shoot the three ball, but continue to improve on it.

Who Could Draft Morant?

Now, for where Morant will be drafted. It truly depends on how the ping pong balls will fall for where Morant gets picked. Teams such as the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers don’t need a point guard. If the Knicks are not confident in Frank Ntilikina running the point for them, they could draft Morant. The Phoenix Suns, who have had noteworthy issues finding a reliable point guard, could team Morant up with Devin Booker. Maybe a team such as the Orlando Magic believe Ja could be their point guard of the future and trade up for him.

Overall, Ja Morant is a sure fire top five pick. But, with the way the ping pong balls bounce, he has a great shot of being a top three pick. All he needs to do is keep continuing to perform, and convince one team that he is their point guard of the future.

All stats courtesy of ESPN

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