Why the Los Angeles Lakers should fear the Memphis Grizzlies

Photo by Brandon Dill/Getty Images
Photo by Brandon Dill/Getty Images /
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Los Angeles Lakers
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Why Ja Morant is a unique point guard in today’s game:

Ja Morant is not just a high-flying dunker or an ankle-breaker. Morant is also an electrifying passer as seen by his no-look pass to Xavier Tillman.

Morant is averaging nearly eight assists per game. Dropping dimes like this will earn him a contract that gives him billions of dimes. There are not too many pass-first point guards with such tight handles and who are this athletic.

This alley-oop from a nice side inbound set proves Morant still has his hops after suffering a scary ankle injury earlier this season.

Morant normally has the ball in his hands all the time on offense. This may change since Memphis has struggled whenever Morant brings the ball up and immediately gets double-teamed. Morant will get to play off the ball more because Memphis is ready to change things up.

How Memphis will get Ja Morant the ball:

Look for Ja Morant to play off the ball against the Lakers. The Memphis scouting report will likely find that Dennis Schroder does not like to play help defense. I expect Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins to move Morant off the ball in an effort to exploit Schroder’s lackluster off-ball defense and to stop teams from double-teaming Morant whenever he has the ball, because it is much tougher to double-team a player off the catch as opposed to off the dribble.

Coach Jenkins will likely start Desmond Bane, a rookie guard who is shooting nearly 50% from three-point range, to start alongside Morant in the backcourt. Bane may become the bane of the Lakers’ existence if they leave him open from three-point range.

More than half of Bane’s shots have been three-pointers. If the Lakers have one eye too many on Morant, Bane will get enough open looks to punish the Lakers defense. So will former Duke star Grayson Allen and ex-Spur Kyle Anderson.

How Memphis will use Ja Morant:

Memphis will likely have Allen or Bane bring the ball up on offense. I expect Morant to come off dribble handoffs and pin-down screens to give him a head start to the basket. Again, the scouting report says to target Dennis Schroder in off-ball actions.

Memphis center Jonas Valanciunas will set plenty of ball screens for Morant in an effort to target Marc Gasol, which is extremely disrespectful given how important Marc and Pau Gasol are to Memphis Grizzlies basketball.

Speaking of disrespected, Dennis Schroder must feel disrespected given the praise and hype coming Ja Morant’s way. Schroder needs to take his matchup personally.