Ja Morant: Off-Ball Offense

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.


 
5-3.jpg

Movement & positioning

Morant does not do much off-ball work because of Murray State’s team construction, which keeps him in the spotlight for most of the game. He knows when to cut back door (and use his tremendous two-foot leaping ability) and has had success on limited spot-up possessions. None of these elements have a large enough sample size over his two seasons to make a fully informed decision about his ability in this category. He has had some success as an offensive rebounder and seems to have good anticipation to get into the lane and get a shot back up off the glass while opposing bigs have their backs turned.


5-0.jpg

Screening

Let’s make this simple: If you are an NBA GM, you aren’t looking at Morant because of his screening ability.


4-3.jpg

Shooting off the catch

During his freshman season, Morant was used more as a catch-and-shoot threat and acquitted himself fairly well, averaging nearly one point per possession. He currently isn’t an NBA-average catch-and-shoot player because of some (fixable) mechanical issues. He has a dip in his release and his shot mechanics are lengthy (read more about his shooting form). Though he has found success with Murray State, he likely hasn’t had much opportunity to work with skill trainers on his shot form. In the NBA he will have access to trainers and shooting coaches who will be able to help correct his stiff release and his acute arm angle. While he isn’t likely to be a great shooter anytime soon, there is some basis to be hopeful of improvement in this area.


3-3.jpg

Shooting off movement

Because of his role within the team, Morant doesn’t find himself working off movement very often. When he is moving, he tends to shoot with his upper body out of alignment, with his lower body leaning toward the rim. He will have to be able to decelerate and get his shoulders and hips in line for this to become a major part of his game. However he will likely have the ball in his hands often, meaning working off movement won’t be a key part of his game.


8-6.jpg

Finishing off movement

Morant has around 30 possessions over two seasons as a cutter, but he has taken advantage of these few opportunities, averaging 1.3 points per possession. He is an instinctual cutter with great length and two-foot bounce who will get into traffic and make something happen. Getting a head full of steam allows him to generate more leaping explosion and finish more effectively around the the rim. This likely won’t be a high usage aspect of his game, but while he works on his jump shot his cutting ability might be the most potent weapon he has available when off the ball.