Drafting 2020 NBA rising stars based on future star potential (ESPN +)
Grizz have 3 players (Ja as a starter)
3. Ja Morant | Memphis Grizzlies
MS: The likely Rookie of the Year if the season ended today, Morant is already a star at 20 years old, with the ingredients to become the league's top point guard.
We compared Morant to a mix of Trae Young and De'Aaron Fox leading up to the draft, and that might have undersold his talent. Not only is Morant averaging 17.6 points and 7.0 assists in less than 30 minutes on 57.3% true shooting, but he also has the Grizzlies in the playoff hunt, completely revitalizing a franchise that top prospects wanted to avoid. His personality is infectious, teammates love playing with him, and the South Carolina native has the mentality to embrace the Memphis market.
Morant can still improve defensively, become a more reliable shooter and finish better through contact, but he's way ahead of schedule as far as rookie point guards go, including making 3s when teams go under screens, and he has the most efficient floater in the NBA.
According to our database, Morant is one of only two players in NBA history to average at least 17 points while shooting better than 50% from 2 and 35% from 3 before reaching the age of 21. The other? Current teammate and Grizzlies cornerstone Jaren Jackson Jr.
6. Jaren Jackson Jr. | Memphis Grizzlies
JG: Jackson is a cornerstone of the fast-rising Grizzlies, who would be in the playoffs if the regular season ended now. Jackson is the fourth-youngest player participating in this game, something that should be accounted for in his long-term outlook.
He's scoring prolifically (24 points per 40) and efficiently (59% TS%), but it seems like there's another gear Jackson can get to on both ends of the floor in terms of toughness, basketball IQ and overall impact. The fact that he's rebounding as poorly as he has been thus far has made it difficult for him to emerge as the full-time, rim-protecting, switch-everything, vertical-spacing, 3-point-shooting center many envisioned him becoming in the NBA.
The Grizzlies can afford to be patient with his development because if he comes even close to realizing his full potential, Jackson will be one of the most valuable two-way players in the league.
9. Brandon Clarke | Memphis Grizzlies
MS: A draft-day steal at No. 21, Clarke's play has caused several NBA teams to investigate why they missed on the 6-foot-8 pogo stick. Although it's still early, and the 23-year-old was expected to have an instant impact, few thought his offensive game and efficiency would translate so seamlessly.
He ranks in the top 10 in true shooting percentage while making more than 40% of his 3s and has maybe the best big-man floater in the NBA. Clarke has a lot of Shawn Marion to his game, though his rim protection and overall defense haven't quite translated yet. Clarke is a valuable player who doesn't need volume to have an impact.