2019 NBA Draft: Memphis Grizzlies earn an 'A' for selecting Murray State guard Ja Morant with No. 2 overall pick
Morant is the first player in Murray State history to be drafted inside the top 10 of the NBA Draft
When the Memphis Grizzlies traded long-time starting point guard on Wednesday, nearly 24 hours ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft, they did so with Murray State sophomore point guard Ja Morant in their sights.
And now Morant is officially a member of the Grizzlies. After earning the No. 2 pick at the lottery in mid-May, the franchise held firm at the spot and selected him at that exact position on Thursday. In doing so, Morant became the highest-drafted Murray State player ever and the first first-rounder since Cameron Payne was drafted No. 14 overall in 2015 by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Grizzlies received a grade of an "A" from CBS Sports' Gary Parrish. Here's what Parrish had to say about Morant:
This is the right pick. The Grizzlies are in a rebuilding phase, and picking second and getting Ja Morant is very, very good. He has the potential to be a star and replace Mike Conley, who didn't want to be in a rebuild. Grade: A
It's easy to see why the Grizzlies locked in on Morant; his vision as a passer, his ambidexterity, his creativity as a floor general -- it all bodes well for him as he takes to transitioning his game from the OVC to the NBA.
Tape will tell you Morant is a unique talent, and so, too, does this stat: as a sophomore last season he became the only NCAA player since assists were tracked to average at least 20 points and 10 assists per game in a single season.
"I'm a pass-first point guard who just loves to get his teammates involved," Morant said at the NBA combine in May. "I feel like my IQ is the strongest part of my game, being able to make plays for me and my teammates.
Morant buried the lede there, so forgive him. He also happens to be one of the best highlight-producing talents in this class. Because of the athletic and springy nature of his game, he's capable of posterizing defenders with ruthless dunks, chasing down blocks in transition, and making opponents go viral (for all the wrong reasons). When you consider he was, it's been a remarkable rise.
The future is bright in Memphis. Morant is one of only a handful of can't-miss prospects in this class, and he joins Jaren Jackson Jr., who was selected No. 4 overall in 2018, as part of an exciting young core the Grizzlies can build around and eventually thrive with.
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