From: Las Vegas
Is he next level? Ja Morant on his NBA scouting report
Zion who? Ja Morant, an AAU pal of Duke's Zion Williamson, has taken college hoops by storm with his viral dunks. But he's more than his highlights. Morant leads the Ohio Valley Conference in points per game (23.9) and the country in assists per game (10.2). His coach, Matt McMahon, said he noticed right away that the 6-foot-3 point guard was special.
But can a barely recruited kid from Murray State really dominate March and then make it at the next level? We asked an NBA scout to assess Morant ... then had Morant assess that assessment.
Next up for Morant: A big-time showdown with fellow Ohio Valley front-runner Austin Peay on Thursday night (9 p.m. ET on ESPN2).
"Morant has great explosiveness and athleticism -- I can see why he's compared to Russell Westbrook (*1). He has a thin frame, but he'll easily bulk up. I like his aggressiveness and attacking mentality. He really finishes at the rim and uses all dribbles to gain an advantage (*2). He sees the floor very well, has a great handle and he's unselfish (*3). His 3-point shooting [33 percent] is not a red flag; I don't see anything wrong with his form, and that's one of the easiest skills to improve in the NBA (*4). On defense, he's often not in a stance and flat-footed. He's got great hands and causes deflections, but that's not enough for the next level. He should be better on defense with his physical skills (*5). Morant is a definite top-10 pick, and he could be top-three."
*1. "Westbrook is my favorite player and who I try to model my game after -- the aggressiveness, the chip on his shoulder. That's how I play, just from being under the radar and really trying to work hard to get to where I'm at."
*2. "I try not to take a lot of dribbles. I look to attack almost on every dribble, just reading the defender's body and looking to get to my spot on the floor."
*3. "I really love sharing the ball. Just to see my teammates succeed. If there's any time I can [help teammates succeed], I will. I look to pass the ball before I look to score."
*4. "I feel like I'm a good shooter. But sometimes in a game, when I settle, that's when I miss a shot instead of just playing in rhythm. Most of the shots I miss are forced."
*5. "Some of my defensive mistakes are because of fatigue from playing a lot of minutes. I have to get more locked in and get some breaks on the offensive end to catch my breath."