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Ja Morant Listed as Odds-On Favorite to be Second Overall Pick in 2019 NBA Draft

Ja Morant
Ja Morant is projected to be the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft on June 20th. Photo by @baseline_hoops (Twitter)
  • 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.

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.

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
RJ Barrett Duke +110
Zion Williamson Duke +1000
Jarrett Culver Texas Tech +1200
De’Andre Hunter Virginia +1400

*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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV's Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric's work has appeared in local and national publications alike.