Ja Morant: Tools
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.
Morant’s blazing speed in the open court allows him to thrive as a transition ball handler. He displays strong burst off the dribble, effortlessly quick, which is a major component in his offensive appeal at the next level. He should thrive in an up-tempo setting. His burst should give him a higher margin for error when executing rotations off the ball and recovering back onto his man.
Morant is an elite east-west ball handler who can execute change-of-direction moves and seamlessly transition into counter moves as the defenses reacts. He can get into the lane with ease because of the potency of his side-to-side movement. While he is learning other parts of his game, he will be heavily reliant on his quickness to create baskets and warp the defense to create for others. If the same agility can manifest itself on the defensive end he could grow into a potent point-of-attack defender in the future.
Morant has strong leaping explosion at his size, which he applies frequently as a finisher at the rim. He is an explosive two-foot leaper who can elevate above defenders and hang in the air as he snakes his way to the rim. His second jump and leaping ability off one foot are solid for a player his size, but jumping off two feet (and usually on the run) is the big ticket item which has NBA GMs excited. While he is mostly known for throwing down vicious dunks, his explosiveness also aides him on the defensive end, contributing to his plus block rate for his position.
Morant displays good body control, and this is an important element of his game. When he leaps, he seems to hang in the air a beat longer than his defender, allowing him to twist and turn to get the ball on the glass or zip a pass to an unseen cutter. He is also incredibly skilled at keeping the ball close while dribbling in traffic. He has a variety of behind-the-back and under-the-legs dribbles where the ball seems to be a part of his body. Defensively, he still needs to improve his body control as he seeks to tip passes. Often his is JUST out of position as he lunges for a pass (whether he should be lunging for that pass or not is a separate matter). Like his quickness and leaping ability, being able to maintain his body control and zip passes around the perimeter will be vital to Morant’s early success.
Even if you haven’t been locked into Murray State all season, you know one thing about Morant’s frame right away: he is incredibly skinny. He has great length which he uses well on the offensive end of the floor, but his narrow shoulders and hips are a major concern for two reasons. He may be limited in how much weight he can add and he may not be able to handle an NBA schedule without injury if he is taking too many bumps on a nightly basis. One immediate way to help his frame (and something front offices and strength and conditioning coaching staffs are no doubt discussing as they consider him) is adding core strength to help him stay on target after getting bumped.