Original Pick: RJ Barrett, Duke
Ja Morant has been the second-best player in this draft class when you simply evaluate play on the basketball court. The reason he has dropped to third relates to his looming suspension with the NBA. Morant has demonstrated a destructive pattern of behavior, and if it doesn’t change he is likely to commit a crime or hurt himself in such a way that his NBA career cannot continue.
Hopefully, Morant will find the help and support he needs and be motivated to change the course of his life. If he does, he will have a long career as an All-Star guard.
Morant is incredible with the ball in his hands, one of the league’s fastest and most explosive guards attacking the rim. He is also one of its best passers, diming up teammates in the exact right places for them to shoot or make players. He has led the Grizzlies to the playoffs in three of his first four seasons in the league.
The path for the New York Knicks would have looked very different had they selected Ja Morant here. RJ Barrett has been fine (as you shall soon see) but Morant has been an All-NBA level of guard at times. He and Julius Randle would have been a formidable pairing, and how the team was shaped from there may have been very different.