Big fat dipping, pinpointing tires and tires to go to Kiri Irving in a tagging duo and win? Ja Moran came out on all those fronts on Sunday when the Memphis Grizzlies pulled out of the Brooklyn Nets, 134-133. Based on a 30-point blast with nine assists from Moran, Murray State's No. 2 pick is set to remain one of the most telegraphed players at this next level of basketball.
Given the training curve of an NBA point guard and, to some extent, Moran's suspicious shot is wild to see a 20-year-old come out and put on a similar show in his third NBA game. Moran kept the Grizzlies in contention, making 1
Morant shot 13-of-22 at night, and eight of them came on the rim. through switchable handles, hops finish over larger defenders and control the body through them when needed. "Sometimes I can be a little passive, I can shoot and try to turn it down," Moran tells The Athletic after the game. "Tonight I had the feeling that the beagers were coming back, trying to entice me to come to them.
If he can continue to reach the rim, which is efficient even without a sophisticated jumper, his entire game will be open ahead of schedule. Morrant is the best passer in his draft class, and commanding this level of attention as a goal scorer will allow him to raise defenses as a distributor. The extent to which he can keep defenders honest around the perimeter will likely dictate his early career. But in this game, even in the half court, he just blew by everyone on his way.
Meanwhile, Irving poured 37 points into his third consecutive recital for 1- 2 nets. Morrant continued to be offended, and although the defense did not call on the young guard, he blocked Irving in isolation in the last game of the regulation. Moran remained grounded during the fake pump he knew was coming .
In the final game of overtime, Morrant again made a wise play by throwing the ball to Jae Crowder after drawing two defenders.
Morant, sound and animated throughout the game, received a shriek after buckets made and can be seen pulling with Irving in the fourth quarter. "One time I joked to him that the reflex told me to put on my T-shirt, and I told him I was trying to be like an out of date Kyrie," said Morrant. It is clear that only a week into his professional career is that Morrant is capable of burning a quarter of basketball, much like the undiscovered Kiri.