Ja Morant: “I wouldn’t compare myself to anybody”

Newest member of the Grizzlies seeks to carve out his own identity. "There's only one Ja. And that's me."

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Hundreds of fans at FedExForum roared as they watched rookie point guard Ja Morant accept his Memphis Grizzlies cap. Photo: Warren Roseborough)

Ja Morant has heard the comparisons to OKC’s Russell Westbrook and Sacramento Kings guard DeAaron Fox. And if it’s all the same to you . . . stop it.

“I wouldn’t compare myself to anyone,” Morant said just hours after the Memphis Grizzlies selected him with the No. 2 overall pick. “There’s only one Ja. And that’s me.”

And so, just hours after the Mike Conley era ends, the Ja Morant era begins. Hundreds of Grizzlies fans filled one side of the lower bowl at FedExForum to watch Morant’s name be called. A cheer went up as Morant donned his Grizzlies cap.

“I’m very excited. I’m just ready to get to work,” Morant said on a conference call with media. “Obviously, I know I have some big shoes to fill with Mike Conley, but I’m just excited. And it has made me happy to see that Memphis trusts in me and believes in me.”

Morant will be introduced Friday in Memphis. Meanwhile, an already wild trading season got even wilder as the Grizzlies moved the No. 23 pick they received from Utah in the Mike Conley trade to acquire the rights to Gonzaga power forward Brandon Clarke.

It was a tearful night for the top picks. Top pick Zion Williamson, Morant and No. 3 pick R.J. Barrett all welled up as the moment consumed them, thanking their parents who were beaming and weeping with pride.

And hovering in the background during Morant’s walk-off interview was his future teammate, Jaren Jackson Jr.

“Most people will think it was like (he was saying) ‘Hey man, I’m ready to play with you,” Morant said of meeting Jackson. “But it was mainly just him congratulating me. He just said, ‘I know we’re teammates, but I just want to congratulate you on everything you’ve accomplished.’ And it was just that. And I just told him thank you and it’s time to get to work.”

This story will be updated.