New York Knicks: Projecting rookie impact of top 2019 NBA Draft targets

(Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
4 of 5
new york knicks
Murray State Ja Morant (Photo by Stephen Furst/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

2. Ja Morant

Age: 19
Height, Weight: 6-foot-3, 175 pounds
Slash Line: .499/.363/.813
Season Averages: 24.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 10.0 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 1.7 3PM

Ja Morant is no longer an unknown mid-major prospect to the casual fan, but someone who should land in the top five — perhaps the top two — of the 2019 NBA Draft. He is this class’s top point guard, and it’s just a matter of where the 6-foot-3 phenom.

The stat line stands out immediately. 24.5 points and 10 assists are dominant numbers. Even that ability to hit three-pointers will open eyes, despite questions of it entering the NCAA Tournament.

However, it’s difficult to expect those points and assists numbers to replicate anytime, unless he becomes Russell Westbrook in seven years. Those numbers will tail off to realistic numbers, but it does not mean athleticism and superior ball-handling skills can’t drive a potential Rookie of the Year candidate.

Whether on the New York Knicks or the Phoenix Suns, Morant can ascend to 10 to 15 points per game and four to seven assists as a rookie. Those are still very good numbers and not a letdown, as he faces stiffer competition than at Murray State.

Morant could take a similar path to De’Aaron Fox, who entered the NBA in 2017 as a point guard that ran on athletic ability. It led to just 40.2 percent shooting as a rookie for 11.6 points and 4.4 assists, but those numbers all spiked as a second-year player, quickly becoming Sacramento’s most exciting player.

Success might not arrive overnight, but if his transition is seamless, it can result in something special early.