How Ja Morant can overcome doubts about his game with Memphis Grizzlies

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images /
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Memphis Grizzlies
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /


The next big knock on Morant’s game is his defense or the occasional lack thereof. In college, particularly during his last year at Murray State, Morant was criticized for being somewhat of a defensive liability. He would routinely take plays off, get beat off the dribble, or find himself out of position to make a play on defense.

A lot of these defensive struggles can be explained by the immense load that he had to shoulder on the offensive end of the court. During his last year at Murray State, Morant’s usage percentage (an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor) was 33.3 percent, a mark higher than the career usage percentage of known NBA ball-hogs Russell Westbrook or James Harden.

Ja was doing so much for his team on offense that his stamina and ability to play A+ defense often became compromised.

Once again, Morant will not be asked to carry this Grizzlies team on offense. The Grizzlies’ roster is deep with guys who have had long, successful NBA careers scoring the ball and playing defense.

Furthermore, it never hurts playing defense alongside well-regarded defensive players like Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke, and (hopefully) Andre Iguodala.

For years, Memphis has built its identity around hard-nosed “Grit n Grind” defense, and although that identity has changed somewhat in the past two years, there are still several guys on the roster who pride themselves primarily on being defenders.


The next concern is not so much of a knock on Morant’s game as it is a concern about his health.

In early June, Morant underwent a minor arthroscopic knee surgery to remove “loose bodies” from his knee.

All reports seem to indicate that the procedure was minor and that Ja should already be back to virtually full health, but it’s still something to keep an eye on. If Morant aggravates the knee or finds himself unable to go 100 percent in October, don’t expect the Grizzlies to take any chances with the future of the franchise.

Should a situation like that arise, however, Memphis is deep at the point guard position. The recent signing of free agent Tyus Jones and the trade acquisition of De’Anthony Melton insured that the organization will be able to rest Morant as much as it sees fit, as he has two very competent players backing him up.