2019 Blue Route NBA Mock Draft – Pick #2

Blue Route is bringing you draft coverage leading up to the NBA draft on June 20th, 2019. The Philadelphia 76ers are slated to select 24th pick in the draft. The NBA draft often sees movement, trades and drama, so to prepare you for various potential outcomes, the Blue Route will be giving you draft profiles for the all of the likely top picks, as well as our very own mock draft.

2019 NBA Mock Draft Results
  1. New Orleans Pelicans – Zion Williamson

The Memphis Grizzlies are on the clock…….

2019 Pick Number 2 – Temetrius “Ja” Morant

Height – 6’3″
Weight – 175lbs
Age – 19yrs 8mos
Wingspan – 6’7″
Position – Point Guard
Strengths – Diverse offensive skillset
Weaknesses – Turnover prone and questionable release point

NBA comp – De’Aaron Fox 

Why it makes sense for Memphis

The Grizzlies have a long history of being the grinders of the NBA. Defense, grit, and determination define the Grizzlies franchise. They moved on from long time cornerstone Marc Gasol this season and will likely look to move Mike Conley as well. The Grizzlies were dead last in pace last season and need to speed things up to play a more modern game. 

Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant would be a perfect complement as the next wave of youth that has the ability to work with Conley, Avery Bradley, and Jonas Valenciunas today. 

Morant was a dynamo in his sophomore season for Murray State. He is, quite simply, the best point guard in the nation and brings huge athletic upside and creativity to the NBA. He is not perfect, however, so an understudy year as a third guard in a rotation with Conley and Bradley makes sense at least for the first part of a rookie season. 

On Offense

Morant scored 24.5 points and averaged 10 assists in his sophomore season. Even more encouraging, he did so with a true shooting percentage of 61% which is elite for a guard. Huge positives for Ja are his 12.5 free throw attempts per 100 possessions and 81% FT shooting. This is partly because of his explosiveness, change of pace, burst, and body control but also partly because of his competition in the Ohio Valley Conference. His 36% three point shooting is below average for a point guard in his second year, and I am not a huge fan of his release. 

His shot comes out low and is a push-shot from his face out. I just don’t like the look regardless of results so far. It seems like the kind of shot that will be an issue in translation to the NBA. 

Although his 55% assist rate is absolutely absurd, the biggest concern comes in the area of turnovers. Ja is a fan of making the flashy pass into and out of tight spaces. In an NBA that is full of well coached, prepared, and smart defenders, Morant will almost certainly struggle with turnovers early in his career. His 20% turnover rate is subpar. Compare this with De’Aaron Fox’s 13.7% turnover rate as a freshman in the SEC, and you can see why Morant does give some reason for pause. 

On Defense

Morant is bouncy and quick and had a steal rate comparable with Fox. He does, however, bring a skillset for blocking shots that is impressive for a guard. His 6’7″ wingspan is good but not elite and he is a bit light for the NBA, but he has an adequate (not great) frame for an NBA point guard. His wingspan is limited likely by his relatively narrow shoulders.  

However, the timing and vision that make him so dangerous offensively will serve him well defensively, as long as he is able to physically endure the size and aggression of NBA play. 

Summary

So Morant is a perfect fit for Memphis on paper and has the ability to really unlock some of the offensive potential of other players on the Grizzlies. He could be a perfect counterpoint to Jaren Jackson Jr. for many years to come. He will likely struggle with turnovers and shooting quite a bit early but is likely the obvious pick at #2. 

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