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What's being said about Ja's future in NBA

By J. Scott Sewell
jscott@theitem.com
Posted 6/23/19

Draft day has come and gone, and Dalzell's own Ja Morant is now officially a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. However, no draft day is complete without insiders and draft "experts" weighing in with their …

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What's being said about Ja's future in NBA

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Draft day has come and gone, and Dalzell's own Ja Morant is now officially a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. However, no draft day is complete without insiders and draft "experts" weighing in with their personal draft grades.

Let's take a look at what the national experts had to say about the kid from Crestwood High School.

Jeremy Woo from Sports Illustrated is high on the Grizzlies' young nucleus, saying, "The Grizzlies now boast one of the league's more promising young duos, and Morant's natural gifts as a playmaker and high-end athleticism create an extremely high ceiling for him as he matures. Memphis should feel good about this choice and are in a pretty strong position as its rebuild begins in earnest." Woo finished by giving the Grizzlies an 'A' grade for their selection.

Rebuild is the operative word in Memphis as Morant moves to a team that is likely to do a lot of losing next season and beyond as it seeks a new direction. It's a franchise that had high hopes when they won 50 games in three consecutive seasons from 2013-16, but has fallen on hard times, missing the playoffs the past two years.

Regardless, The Ringer's Jonathan Tjarks is sold on Morant's athleticism and basketball IQ. He also gave the Grizzlies an 'A' and said, "Morant made a nearly unprecedented leap from unranked recruit to No. 2 overall pick in two seasons at Murray State. His dunking ability put him on the map, but he's also a well-rounded player with the best combination of athleticism and basketball IQ of any of the point guards in this year's draft. The big question for Morant is how much he'll be able to improve as an outside shooter, because a player his size (6-foot-3-inches, 175 pounds) can't live at the rim in the NBA."

Nearly every insider and expert gave the Grizzlies an 'A' grade, but not all of the feedback was so positive.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith offered praise but said he doesn't view Morant as a "can't miss" prospect.

"I don't think he's can't miss," Smith said. "There's plenty of guards in the NBA that you have expectations for, and they didn't pan out. He seems to have the ball-handling skills, the shot, the mentality, the aggression, the assertiveness etc. etc. where I'm very, very confident that he will be successful on the next level. But to say he's can't miss? No, I don't view Ja Morant that way."

Morant's rookie season seems likely to mirror that of last season's premier rookie guard, Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks. Young had his ups and downs while he established himself as a legitimate NBA scorer and playmaker, but his Hawks won just 29 games while missing the NBA playoffs.

Around this same time last year, Chris Stone from Sports Illustrated gave the Hawks an 'A' grade for their choice of Young and said, "Young faces significant defensive concerns, but his potential to make a team's offense better is too much to pass up."

Sound familiar?