Ja Morant: On-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.
Morant is a very tight ball handler with a wide array of moves and effective counter moves, who is capable of back-footing defenders with a live dribble and using the space created to get to the rim. He can change directions with ease and rarely loses the ball in traffic, showing solid burst off the dribble after changing directions. He can also snake his way into the lane with a phenomenal tight space handle, something that sets him apart from most guard prospects.
Morant has excellent court vision. He sees cutters well, and has an excellent eye for seals. His passing repertoire is vast, throwing a wide array of passes: over the top, bounce passes, skips. In time, he should be able to execute one-handed passes maneuvering into the lane on the weak-side of the floor. He often forces the ball into tight windows when looking for teammates leading to turnovers, but these turnovers should lessen when he plays with better teammates they are often on target but mishandled. He does struggle at times with his decision-making especially when forcing lob attempts at the rim.
Shooting off the dribble
This was a major concern in Morant’s game coming into the year and still is. He had an extremely limited number of attempts last season, and even though he is taking pull-ups more frequently the percentages are still similar. Most of his pull-ups are not taken off significant momentum which points to poor deceleration, a skill necessary for a lethal pull-up shooter in the NBA. He does not create a significant amount of space with his step-back, leading to concerns about creating separation against NBA-level competition.
Finishing off the dribble
Morant uses his length well when attacking the rim and has good core strength; he can maneuver well in traffic, take a bump and still finish. He has also flashed ambidextrous finishing ability, but is still right-hand dominant. He does an excellent job maneuvering in space and is an absolute wrecking ball when he jumps with power. His highlight dunks have been must-see television for much of this season. While his size (or lack thereof) hasn’t been an issue around the rim at an NCAA level, he has some core strength issues and can be bumped off his spot on drives, a knock on his game which will rear its head more often against NBA level competition.
Finishing in the post
Though Morant has the length to add a quick post to his game, he will need to get stronger to even begin to exploit his advantages. Currently, he doesn’t have the lower body or core strength to establish position against NBA competition, nor does he have the jump shooting ability to finish over tight defense.