Stephen A. Smith says he trusts Ja Morant more than Anthony Davis

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith revealed that he trusts Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant more than Los Angeles Laker star Anthony Davis heading into their matchup in the first round of the playoffs in the Western Conference.

“Ja Morant,” Smith said when asked who he trusts more. “I mean, is that a trick question? Of course it’s Ja Morant. That’s exactly who I expect to ball out more so.”

Smith did clarify that he doesn’t expect Davis to have a bad series, especially with Brandon Clarke (Achilles) and Steven Adams (knee) out for the Grizzlies, but he thinks Morant’s play has the ability to elevate those around him, calling it a potential “X factor” in the series.

Both Morant and Davis are going to have important roles for their respective teams, but Davis will have a tough matchup dealing with Defensive Player of the Year candidate Jaren Jackson Jr.

Morant, who has led the Grizzlies to the No. 2 seed in back-to-back seasons, played extremely well in the playoffs last season before going down with a knee injury against the Golden State Warriors in the second round.

While Smith may believe that the Grizzlies star is the player to trust, he may be forgetting Davis’ magical playoff run in the Orlando, Fla. bubble in the 2019-20 season.

The Lakers went on to win the NBA Finals that season, and Davis came up huge on several occasions, including hitting a game-winning shot in the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets.

In the playoffs in the 2019-20 season, Davis averaged 27.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 57.1 percent from the field. For his career, A.D. averages 27.3 points per game across 39 postseason appearances.

Morant may have the ball in his hands a bit more than Davis since he doesn’t share touches with LeBron James, but he’s going to have to play at a high level to outshine Davis at his peak.

The Lakers are certainly hoping that Davis can channel his play from the 2019-20 season as they look to upset the No. 2-seeded Grizzlies in the first round. The Lakers star played well in the play-in tournament against the Minnesota Timberwolves, scoring 24 points in the Lakers’ win.

That series begins with Game 1 in Memphis on Sunday, April 16.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.