A day after trading longtime star Mike Conley to the Jazz, the Grizzlies added their new point guard of the future by selecting Ja Morant with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
The team announced the selection Thursday night minutes after the Pelicans did the expected by drafting Zion Williamson.
Morant, a point guard out of Murray State, was widely considered the second-best prospect in the draft after a breakout sophomore year.
He led the Racers to the NCAA Tournament and a first-round upset of Marquette while averaging 24.5 points, 10 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game.
There was little doubt that Memphis would go with Morant, especially after trading Conley to Utah earlier in the week. The Grizzlies got some valuable assets back in that deal, which returned Grayson Allen, Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver and draft picks, but the move also freed the team of Conley’s expensive contract while freeing a spot for Morant.
The Grizzlies will now be able to focus their rebuild around Morant, a potential All-Star guard, and big man Jaren Jackson Jr., the No. 3 pick in the 2018 draft. Those two represent a strong foundation for Memphis to build on following the conclusion of the Grit N’ Grind era led by Conley and Marc Gasol.