The Ringer, one of the better sports and pop culture website out there — besides yours truly, of course — released a video earlier this week breaking down the game of Memphis Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant.
In contrast to many national media articles and videos, this was a well-thought out piece of content that accurately reflected the strengths and weaknesses of both Morant and his Grizzlies.
J. Kyle Mann, the creator of this video for The Ringer bestowed a grade of A upon Morant for his performance so far this season.
Some of the more exciting qualities of Morant’s game according to Mann include his elite playmaking and “Luigi-like second jump”. The rookie is also an exceptional off-ball cutter who soars to the rim in the air and is often the beneficiary of high flying dunks and not just the distributor of such crowd pleasing spectacles.
With the threat of Morant driving to the rim at will, opposing defenses are forced to collapse on him, which opens up the elbow jumper, where the Grizzlies lead the league. According to Mann, center Jonas Valanciunas has been on the receiving end of 23% of Morant’s pass this year and these opportunities have allowed the big man to have one of the best offensive seasons of his career.
While already an electrifying player, Morant still has a few areas where he has room for growth. This should not be viewed as a bad thing. The fact that he has made this amount of impact on the NBA already and still has a ceiling that we are unable to identify should be the source of great encouragement for Grizzlies fans.
Currently, the bulk of Morant’s scoring is done at the rim or above the break. Only 14% of his shots come from beyond the arc, which ranks in the bottom 2% for comparable players. Now that there is more film on him available for opposing coaches and players, those studious enough to dive in will give themselves an advantage towards stifling the young guard.
In addition, getting stronger physically should be a goal of Morant’s. This is going to be an off-season opportunity for him. Right now he has a hard time against stronger defenders like Jrue Holiday and also struggles to get through screens set by burly big men. An increase in size will help him on the defensive end as well, and lord help anyone who gets in his way once he has some downhill momentum. We’ve already witnessed a few posters this season and they are only going to get more and more emphatic.
Overall, Ja Morant has been a bonafide pleasure to watch and the Grizzlies – despite their recent struggles – have one of the more exciting young rosters in the league. In an NBA season marred by injuries to many top tier players like Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, Morant has been a bright spot for the die-hard hoops fan.
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