The 2019 NBA Draft is more than a month away, but the Memphis Grizzlies already know who they want to select with the No. 2 pick.
Tuesday’s NBA Draft lottery revealed the Grizzlies will have the rights to the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, and they appear to be set on drafting Murray State point guard Ja Morant, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN.
Morant, 19, was a consensus first-team All-American who led the NCAA in assists during his sophomore season in 2018-19. The 6-3 guard was an unheralded prospect coming out of high school in 2017. He received one college offer and couldn’t even dunk until his senior year of high school.
Fast forward two years later and Morant is now the most highly-regarded prospect in this year’s NBA Draft not named Zion Williamson. The teenage guard began taking scouts’ attention with his performances against top-tier opponents such as Alabama and Auburn. Against Alabama, Morant scored 38 points before unleashing a 25-point performance on an eventual Final Four team in the Auburn Tigers.
Here are a few of highlights against the Crimson Tide:
Morant led Murray State to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before they were eliminated by Florida State. He finished the season with averages of 24.5 points, 10.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game.
With the Grizzlies locking in on Morant as their point guard and franchise building block of the future, one would assume that Memphis will move veteran Mike Conley. The Grizzlies tried real hard to move Conley at the trade deadline, but only succeeded in moving longtime teammate Marc Gasol to the Toronto Raptors. Conley has two years and $65 million remaining on his contract, with an early termination option for 2020-21.
With Morant in the picture, it looks like the Grizzlies will build around the teenage point guard and Jaren Jackson Jr., last year’s No. 4 overall pick who started 56 games for Memphis this past season.