Heading into last night I’ll admit I never paid any mind to Ja Morant, but the kid can flat out hoop. The way he’s able to control the tempo of the game and play with such poise is a huge reason he will be a star in this league one day.
Putting up 30 points, 4 rebounds, and 9 assists on 50% from the three against Kyrie Irving was enough to gain my attention. Down the stretch, he was able to find his teammates and set them up in a position to score out of their comfort zone. This happened a lot with Jonas Valancunas. He was often open on the three point line where he shot 3 for 5 from. That doesn’t happen without the help of Morant.
Putting him side by side to Irving they look a lot alike, and at times almost identical. Only difference is Irving’s handles are much more advanced than Morant’s.
His buckets consisted of attacking the lane, utilizing the mid range, and spotting up from three. When you really dive into details we really haven’t seen a guard like Morant since the early Chris Paul days. Just think he’s Kyrie Irving with Paul’s passing IQ. Is that a bit of a stretch? You tell me.
One thing they don’t mention about Morant is his defense. Primarily his one on one defense. We saw a good example as he was matched up on Kyrie to end regulation. Morant’s blocking ability is rare for a guard, but he never bites on the pump fake which 90% of guys do. If you have Morant defending you don’t expect a bucket.
The Grizzlies had 6 guys, not including Morant, in double digits to end the night. He was a big reason why the ball was moving flawlessly.
To give up the Limelight on a play drawn up by Head Coach Taylor Jenkins intended for Jae Crowder and you don’t question that is pretty rare to find in high profiled rookies. Being the youngest team in the NBA where the average age on the roster is 24 is a milestone in itself, but to be led by a 20 year old with such composure, grit, and the all-around intention of winning is so much fun to watch.
Needless to say I am now a fan of Ja Morant!