2019 NBA Draft Profile: Ja Morant
Ja Morant is an electric, creative playmaking guard coming off one of the most productive seasons in recent college basketball history. An unheralded prospect out of Crestwood High School in South Carolina, Morant earned 1st team All-Ohio Valley Conference honors as a true freshman under Matt McMahon in 2018 averaging 12.8 points and 6.2 assists per game in a secondary role before turning heads with an excellent showing at the CP3 Elite Guard Camp. He had a breakout year in a massive role for the Racers this season leading the nation in assists per game, recording multiple triple-doubles, and guiding his team to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Averaging 24.5 points, 10 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game, the Dalzell, South Carolina native earned Consensus 1st Team All-American honors.
- Gifted athlete whose impressive combination of speed, explosiveness, and ability to change gears are a key part of his intrigue. Has good size for a point guard listed at 6’3 with a slight 175-pound frame that did not stop him from regularly challenging shot blockers at the rim and mixing it up on the glass last season.
- Drove the vast majority of what Murray State did offensively. Created, assisted, or scored an astounding 50.2 points per game generating scoring opportunities in bunches in the open floor, putting pressure on the defense with his ability to get to spots off the dribble, finding shooters and cutters with excellent vision, and showing a strong feel for when to look for his own offense.
- Talented passer and dynamic ball handler with the speed to blow by opposing defenders allowing him to put a lot of stress on opposing defenses and get his teammates open. Whips the ball all over the floor using both hands in the half court and looks to get ahead early in Transition unselfishly. Had some high turnover games, but carried his team for long stretches.
- Did much of his best work in the open court leading the country scoring or assisting 15.5 points per game in Transition—good for 78th among Division I teams. Generated offense on the break like few players in NCAA history. Scored an impressive 1.197 points per Transition possession [78th percentile] hammering numerous highlight reel dunks and finishing with his left hand going full speed with terrific consistency.
- More than just an athlete as he proved to be a crafty penetrator, creative finisher, and capable jump shooter this season. Created much of his own offense in Pick & Roll and Isolation situations last season, but also showed marked improvement as a set shooter and served as the target of some designed lobs.
- Ability to get to the rim shined in spots with half of his shots within Murray State’s set offense coming inside. Has tremendous burst and is often able to toss in scoops with impressive touch on the move. Scored 1.125 points per shot around the rim in the half court [51st percentile].
- Showed marked improvement as a perimeter scorer as a sophomore averaging 0.967 points per jump shot in the half court [60th percentile]—up from the 0.921 points per attempt he scored as a freshman. Gets to his pull-up in a variety of ways. Made set shots at an improved rate, but showed how explosive he can be as a scorer on the nights he was making jumpers off the dribble last season. Punished defenders for cheating to play his drives in a manner he could not as a freshman.
- Ranked 1st in the NCAA and 1st in the OVC in points created, assisted, or scored (50.2 ppg)
- Ranked 1st in the NCAA and 1st in the OVC in Transition scoring (8.5 ppg)
- Ranked 2nd in the OVC in points created by passes out of the Pick & Roll scoring (7.6 ppg)
- Ranked 2nd in the OVC in Pick & Roll scoring (6.0 ppg)
- Ranked 2nd in the OVC in Isolation scoring (2.9 ppg)
- Faced an uphill battle defensively with how much tread he put on his tires offensively but nonetheless showed the ability to heat up the ball and be a factor in the passing lanes when he was dialed in. Proved adept at chipping in on the glass hunting rebounds to spark fast break opportunities.
- Allowed 0.536 points per one-on-one possession. Looked to conserve energy defensively at times given he almost never left the floor but held his own in key moments nonetheless. Has some attainable improvements to make as he gains experience and gets stronger.