In the months leading up to Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery, Duke forward Zion Williamson was considered the consensus choice to be picked first overall, regardless of which team ended up with the top selection. That doesn’t seem to have changed following the lottery, which saw the New Orleans Pelicans come out on top. And with the Memphis Grizzlies landing the No. 2 pick in next month’s draft, a new report suggests that the team already has someone in mind for the selection — Murray State sophomore Ja Morant.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony took to Twitter to post that the Grizzlies’ top brass seems to have “locked in” on Morant as the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, barring any unexpected circumstances. Givony added that Memphis officials are also “informing parties” in Chicago, where the Draft Lottery was held, about their plans, and that Williamson’s Duke teammate, forward/guard R.J. Barrett, is now likely to end up with the New York Knicks as the third overall selection.
Commenting on the new rumor from Givony, Bleacher Report noted that Morant could be “quite the consolation prize” for the team that picks him in the draft, which is scheduled to take place on June 20. Suiting up last season for Murray State, Morant averaged 24.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 10 assists per game, while registering shooting clips of 49.9 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Additionally, Bleacher Report cited comments made by the outlet’s Jonathan Wasserman in his most recent mock draft, where he noted that Morant could use his speed and passing ability to his advantage, but cautioned that the youngster may struggle in terms of his decision-making skills, turnovers, and defense. Like many other experts, Wasserman had Morant listed as the prospective second overall pick behind Williamson.
“Nifty ball-handling, vision and ambidextrous passing skill fuel elite playmaking potential for Morant, the nation’s assist leader. Even if he struggles to improve as a shooter, his ability to set up teammates is a strength Memphis can bank on.”
Should the Grizzlies draft Ja Morant as expected, that could also allow the team to part ways with their erstwhile starting point guard, Mike Conley. As reported earlier on Wednesday by The Inquisitr, multiple league sources told The Ringer‘s Kevin O’Connor that the Utah Jazz are interested in trading for Conley, who has played for Memphis since he entered the NBA in 2007. Earlier this year, the Jazz reportedly made an unsuccessful push to acquire the 31-year-old veteran prior to the league’s February trade deadline.