ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith sees similarities between Memphis Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant and Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook.
Russell Westbrook has developed a habit of stealing the pride of his opponents, as he’s known to dunk on whoever and whatever may be in the way of him and the goal. What makes matters worse for defenders is that the Houston Rockets superstar has both the speed and quickness to go from 0-60 miles per hour within seconds, which makes him impossible to stop on the fast break.
At 31-years-old, the 12-year veteran has defied father time, as he’s still shown the ability to tower over defenders, which was particularly evident when the Rockets squared off against the Utah Jazz on the road this season. If you recall, during that game several members of the Jazz fanbase began to chirp at Russ, which he responded by nearly leaping over Utah’s 7-foot-1 center Rudy Gobert to complete an alley-oop from James Harden.https://videos.nba.com/nba/pbp/media/2020/02/22/0021900841/359/2e3ec525-f64f-dc46-c980-9ee3ccecc5b9_1280x720.mp4
Russ has always played with a chip on his shoulder, as he’s known for giving 110 percent effort on each night, which makes it easy to root for him. We’ve heard several young stars across the league sing Westbrook’s praises, such as Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker, Sacramento Kings star De’Aaron Fox, and New Orleans Pelicans high-flyer Zion Williamson.
Another young star who has discussed his admiration for Westbrook’s game is Memphis Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant, who expressed excitement after having the opportunity to play Russ head-to-head for the first time in his career. But as it turns out, Morant’s game is also reminiscent of Russ, in the eyes of some.
Case in point, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who made the comparison between the two guards on ESPN’s First Take on Friday.
Stephen A. Smith sees similarities between Rockets’ Russell Westbrook and Ja Morant
“When I think about a Russell Westbrook, when I think about an Allen Iverson, that’s how I look at Ja Morant. That athleticism, that attack mentality that he has.”
Morant has certainly been the catalyst for the Grizzlies, as they currently hold the eighth spot in the Western Conference, after being a lottery team just a year ago. But there’s no lock that Memphis will get in the postseason, as there will be a play-in tournament for the final spot.
Like Westbrook, Morant has shown the mentality of an assassin, as he made headlines earlier in the season for going at Houston Rockets superstar James Harden. Morant is a surefire candidate for the Rookie of the Year award, and a legitimate argument can be made for him winning it, considering how he’s lifted Memphis, while also playing 59 games compared to his likely competition Zion Williamson, who played in 19 games.
When you think about Morant’s game, it’s easy to see why Stephen A. would draw comparisons to Westbrook, as both players are high-flyers who possess elite athleticism and a never-back-down attitude. Not to mention the ability to set up teammates with open looks.