Ja Morant expected to be drafted by Grizzlies, per report, leaving RJ Barrett for Knicks

Eric He
·Yahoo Sports Contributor

Zion Williamson is the undisputed top prospect in the 2019 NBA draft, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other potential franchise-changing players on the board.

Now we have a sense of who will go No. 2 to the Memphis Grizzlies: Murray State’s Ja Morant, according to Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony.

This means two things, as Givony points out. The dynamic Morant will join a Grizzlies team in the midst of a rebuild, having just traded away franchise center Marc Gasol to the Toronto Raptors. Secondly, it leaves Duke’s RJ Barrett on the board for the New York Knicks, who — to the chagrin of their fans such as Stephen A. Smith — did not land the first overall pick in the draft lottery on Tuesday.

Morant was one of college basketball’s leading scorers last season at 24.5 points per game to go along with 10 assists and 5.7 rebounds. He led Murray State to a first-round upset of Marquette in the NCAA tournament. For a Grizzlies franchise that has built its recent identity around defense, Morant’s offensive prowess could mark a new era if Memphis ends up drafting the 19-year-old.

Murray State's Ja Morant (12) during the second half of a second round men's college basketball game in the NCAA tournament, Saturday, March 23, 2019, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Ja Morant is reportedly expected to be drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies with the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

For the Knicks, Barrett would serve as a consolation prize to his former Duke teammate Williamson. According to the New York Post, the Knicks interviewed both Morant and Barrett on Wednesday.

It’s crazy how the fate of so many NBA franchises were sealed by a few ping-pong balls in Chicago on Tuesday. But teams like the Grizzlies and Knicks shouldn’t feel too disappointed about missing out on No. 1: Both conference finals feature plenty of players who were selected outside of the top five.

Williamson is primed to have a massive NBA career. But that doesn’t been Morant and Barrett won’t become stars, wherever they land.

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