Ja Morant is the future


Owen Stanley '25

If you are a fan of the NBA, you have definitely heard of Ja Morant. He’s a 6’3” point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, and a walking highlight reel. It seems that every other night you see him throwing a crazy dunk that you didn’t even think was possible. He is one of the best point guards in the league right now, if not the best. He is on track to be one of the greatest point guards to ever play in the NBA. Some, if not most, people will think this notion ridiculous, and say that he is just another over-hyped player that is soon to fall back down to earth and be average. However, I am here to prove that Ja is the future and without a doubt will be one of the best. 

One’s first argument would probably be “Ja Morant is only good at dunking and can’t shoot.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. First, Ja has a shooting percentage of 34%. This may not be the best in the NBA, but, it is certainly better than some NBA players who are regarded as one of the best shooters in the league, such as Cade Cunnigham (32.3%), Damian Lillard (32.4%), and even James Harden (33.5%). This is by analyzing statistics alone. If you use the eye test on him, you will see that Morant is much better at shooting midranges and from deep than people think. Second, if you watch some of the Grizzlies games you would see that Ja Morant’s shot is almost flawless. He doesn’t shoot set-shots or shoot from his waist. He has a smooth, pure shot that can easily make him shoot better over time. Next, we can compare Ja to past NBA players with similar abilities, and a similar shooting-spike in their careers. Ja is most often compared to Derrick Rose and Russel Westbrook. Rose and Westbrook both saw a shooting increase in their third season with Rose shooting 6.5% better and Westbrook shooting 10% better from beyond the arc. Of course, this doesn’t mean that Morant will surely shoot better, but it is an interesting pattern to consider when wondering about his future shooting. His shooting will also surely get better during the off seasons to come. His shot was much better during the game against the Spurs, as he hit an airborne three and another from the logo.  After this historic game, he broke the single-game franchise record of 46 points (which he had set 2 days prior) by scoring 52.

With Ja being a faithful star for the Memphis Grizzlies, the organization will build the future roster around his abilities, making him a better and more effective player . We first saw this in the 2020-2021 NBA season when the Grizzlies traded away Jonas Valančiūnas (and a few draft picks) for Steven Adams and Eric Bloodsoe (as well as some draft picks). At the time Jonas was a great center and everyone was concerned for the Grizzlies, thinking that they had lost the value of their team, and that they would surely fail. However, Steven Adams turned out to be the key piece in Ja Morant’s success. Steven Adams is a 6’11” center and a unit of a man who helped Russel Westbrook win MVP. He is regarded as one of the strongest players in the NBA and is notorious for setting hard screens for people to slam into. He leads the NBA in assists off screens, most of which come from Ja Morants hard-to-guard finishing skills. Adams also leads the league in offensive rebounds by a landslide, averaging 4.3 offensive rebounds per game. Adams may not be the best stat-producer, but he knows his role and he excels at it, helping Ja Morant become one of the best. In the future Memphis will use draft picks and trades to acquire more players like Adams who will help Morant and the Grizzlies get to the top.

Morant’s final attribute that will help him become one of the best is obviously his jumping ability. Standing at 6’3” with a 6’7” wingspan, Ja Morant has a vertical leap of 44 inches. For comparison, the average vertical leap for an NBA guard is 36 inches. This means when chasing down blocks or performing crazy dunks, he can soar a foot and a half above the rim. This allows Morant to dunk the ball while jumping over people a foot taller than him. Morant’s estimated block radius is about 3,500 cubic feet, the same block radius of Hawks center Clint Capela, who stands 6’10! Some may be asking, “Wow, this dude can really jump! But how far could he dunk?” Well it is estimated that with his huge vertical leap, Ja Morant can slam it down from 16 feet out. That means he could dunk from an entire foot behind the free-throw line! 

Morants attributes make him one of the best current point guards in the league. Only the future can tell how far his talents will take him. With his shooting ability, great teammates, and high vertical, one can see how Ja Morant will become a future star in the NBA. His abilities already translate onto the stat sheet with him averaging 27.6 points, 5.7 assists, and 6.7 rebounds. I believe that if Ja Morant can keep this up and improve his game even more with the coming seasons he will surely be a hall of famer and an all-time great.

 Disclaimer: This paper was written on 3/22, so stats may have changed by the time you’re reading.