Ja Morant could go as high as No. 2 in the upcoming NBA draft. Outside of Zion Williamson, Morant may be the most exciting player in the draft.
Morant has been compared to Russell Westbrook. As with many comparisons, it feels like it falls a bit short. What do the two players have in common? Both are explosive athletes who are (or can be) the go-to scorer on an NBA team. Morant appears to be more of a distributor than Westbrook was at this stage of his career.
Westbrook averaged 4.3 assists during his final season at UCLA. Morant’s 10 assists per game more than double Westbrook’s numbers coming out of college. Parts of Morant’s game reminds me of Trae Young, particularly his court vision, but the Hawks guard is a much better shooter. Morant is also much more athletic than Young.
Morant finds himself in a close battle with Duke’s RJ Barrett in the race for the No. 2 pick. We have moved Morant up above Barrett in our last two mock drafts. While Barrett’s defensive upside is higher, Morant offers teams a more explosive offensive player and playmaker. It will be interesting to see if March Madness has any impact on which player is selected first in June’s draft.
Here’s a look at Morant’s NBA draft profile.
Ja Morant NBA Draft Profile
STRENGTHS: Morant is one of the most electric players in college basketball. The Murray State guard is known for his scoring and athleticism. What is surprising about Morant’s game when you are first watching him play is his unbelievable passing ability. Morant averaged 10 assists per game this season and has a knack for getting his teammates involved.
Morant averages 24.6 points per game and is doing so in a very efficient manner. Morant takes just over 16 shots per game and shoots more than 50 percent from the field. A lot of this ties into Morant’s ability to get to the basket and score at the rim.
WEAKNESSES: Morant’s shot is still a work in progress as his 33.6 three-point percentage shows. This is up close to three percent from his freshman season on twice as many attempts. This is a good sign that Morant’s jumper is improving.
The level of competition Murray State consistently faced is not to the caliber of some of the other prospects Morant is being compared against. He could help himself with a strong performance or two against better competition in the NCAA tournament. Morant is a sophomore and a year older than Barrett along with some of his other NBA draft peers.
SUMMARY: Morant’s floor appears to be the No. 3 pick, but strong performances in the NBA pre-draft process could push him up to No. 2 in June’s draft. Morant is the best playmaker in the draft who can score at a high rate while also keeping his teammates involved. The Murray State guard appears to be the kind of player you can build your NBA franchise around.