- Ja Morant starred during March Madness
- The Memphis Grizzlies need a point guard to take over from aging Mike Conley Jr.
- What is the best bet to make?
Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery was the quest for Zion Williamson, which went to the New Orleans Pelicans.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 15, 2019
But the consolation prize to the Memphis Grizzlies with the second pick won’t be shabby at all. Not like the last time they were in the two slot.
Congratulations to the Memphis Grizzlies. They have managed to pick second in the 2003 and 2019 NBA drafts, landing one pick away from both Lebron James and Zion Williamson.
Consolation prizes: Darko Milicic and Ja Morant. ☠️ pic.twitter.com/ISWAW9CZrF
— Alex Apple (@AlexApple_) May 15, 2019
Currently, BetOnline is pegging that pick to be Murray State wunderkind Ja Morant.
Odds to Be 2nd Overall Pick in 2019 NBA Draft
|Player||School||Odds at BetOnline|
|Ja Morant||Murray State||-150|
|Jarrett Culver||Texas Tech||+1200|
*Odds taken 05/15/19
Is there any reason to think Memphis won’t take Morant? Or does RJ Barrett or another rising prospect like Texas Tech wing Jarrett Culver make for a better value bet?
Morant Draft Stock Soars in NCAA Tournament
Morant was on the radar as an impressive prospect, but only scouts and college basketball deep-divers could really speak to the skill behind the 24.5 point, 10.0 assist averages Morant was putting up in his sophomore season.
Fortunately, Murray State qualified for the NCAA tournament and the 6’3″ point guard went to work.
Ja Morant EPIC Triple-Double Full Highlights vs Marquette 2019.03.21 – 17 Pts, 11 Reb, 16 Ast https://t.co/9RpsELwirm
— Don Quixhaughty (@alanschreiner) March 22, 2019
All it took was one game for the national audience to see the kid had the physical tools and ability to shine at the next level.
Despite a second round loss to Florida State, Morant answered another question about his game: the ability to stroke the basketball from distance.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 23, 2019
He finished the game with 28 points and a perfect 5-for-5 from three-point range in the game, vaulting his NBA stock into another stratosphere.
And just in case you’re wondering if a star basketball player from a small school can excel at the highest level, just take a peek at the NBA’s current final four teams.
Some of the best players left in the nba playoffs and the schools they went to:
Kawhi-San Diego St
Lot of small school/non blue blood NBA star power on these teams
— B££ZY (@Burke_F_Garner) May 13, 2019
Situation and Position Matters
In Memphis’ case, they are in rebuild mode after hanging on to the Grit n’ Grind era a few seasons too long. Marc Gasol was dealt at the deadline, and Mike Conley Jr., with his massive contract extension, likely doesn’t fit into this franchise’s long term plans.
Assuming the Lakers can not get AD, they should turn their attention to trading for Mike Conley Jr. They would cut into some of their space to do it but well worth it. Memphis could then have Ja, Ingram, Kuzma and Jaren Jackson Jr.
— Evan Cohen (@EvCoRadio) May 15, 2019
Morant would slide right under Conley’s wing, or, if Memphis finds a taker for the steady veteran point, Morant could start fresh, on a team with promising second-year man Jalen Jackson Jr. and youngsters like Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, and Jonas Valanciunas and whoever they add from that trade.
RJ Barrett took 12 shots per game. More than half of those were 3s. He shot 30% from 3. No thank you. Give me the dynamic playmaker.
— RyanG (@drggrizz) May 15, 2019
The other player to consider in this position is Barrett, a 6’7″ wing who has the ability to feature as a lead ball handler.
🔥 HIGHLIGHTS SESSION : RJ BARRETT ! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/zvuuP3TsTT
— TrashTalk (@TrashTalk_fr) May 14, 2019
Despite averaging 22.6 points a game, the freshman struggled at times at Duke, shooting just above 30% from three-point range, and his 4.3 assists a contest were low for someone touted as the best all-around prospect coming out of high school.
What’s the Best Bet to Make Here?
Jarrett Culver and De’Andre Hunter are nice and could project as all-stars, but the ceiling for Zion and Morant is All-NBA, and that’s why they are the consensus top two picks, with Barrett on a tier just below.
A lot can happen between now and June 20th, but not even an injury should knock either prospect off their current perch.
Morant might not offer the best value, but he’s undoubtedly the winning bet as the second pick.
Pick: Ja Morant (-150)