Ja Morant: Hustle
Our scouting grades represent the composite opinion of at least three different scouts. Each category is graded based on how we view a player’s current ability level relative to NBA players at the same position (guard, wing, forward or big). A grade of 1 indicates replacement level, a grade of 5 indicates NBA average, and a grade of 10 indicates historically elite. Our composite scouting notes help provide context for our grades.
Watch a few highlights of Morant and you’ll see a player that’s in fourth and fifth gear often. This holds true in his game film, as he attacks the defense relentlessly over the course of 40 minutes. However he also plays a large chunk of the game in first gear: unengaged, flat-footed, and simply waiting for an opportunity to get the ball in his hands once again. Upping his effort level to second or third gear would go a long way toward having a more consistent impact on the game, though it may prove difficult if he finds himself in another mega-usage situation.
Like most offensive hubs, Morant isn’t expected to crash the offensive glass. As a result, his offensive rebounding opportunities tend to be mostly incidental. He does seem to have good natural instincts for positioning, and when able to collect a miss he’s extremely effective at quickly turning it into a made basket.
Morant is an average rebounder for a guard. Instead of leaking out in transition he prefers to hang back and help out on the defensive glass, displaying good natural instincts for positioning. His tendency to drift towards the ball often puts him in natural rebounding position on the weak side, ready to grab the board and dash up the court. While some of his rebounds are clearly Westbrook-style (bigs allowing their guard to get the board), he still makes a positive impact overall in this category.
Morant is fantastic at attacking in transition. His speed in the open floor allows him to get down the court before the defense is able to set up. His court vision and passing ability allows him to find the open man consistently, and his explosiveness allows him to finish 70 percent of his shots at the rim. Although he typically is the one leading the break, in a limited sample he’s proven very effective filling lanes on the wings as well.
Although Morant has the physical tools to make an impact in transition defense, his poor technique and decision-making often leads to easy buckets for opposing teams. He doesn’t play with quite the same urgency as in transition the other direction, often putting forth just enough effort to stay in the play but not enough to actually stop the ball or pick up the open shooter. This is understandable to a degree given his offensive workload, but has shown up even on possessions where he never touched the ball on offense.