Thunder: Chris Paul, Ja Morant swap jerseys
Ja Morant sat in the visitor's locker room in Oklahoma City with Chris Paul's No. 3 Thunder jersey folded behind him.
Less than 18 months ago, Morant was one of 20 players invited to Paul's CP3 Elite Guard Camp in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. That was before Morant's breakout sophomore season at Murray State that made him the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Now opponents, Paul and Morant swapped jerseys after the Thunder's win against the Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
"I'm trying to win the game and not focus on who I'm playing against, but that's big bro," Morant told reporters.
The 20-year-old Morant is the early favorite to win Rookie of the Year — the same award Paul won in the 2005-06 season. Morant is averaging 18.9 points and 6.5 assists per game. Paul averaged 15.1 points and 7.8 assists per game in his rookie season.
Morant scored 22 points Wednesday night against the Thunder. He soared to finish an alley-oop in the second quarter that drew oohs and aahs even from the Thunder faithful.
“It was cool, really cool," Paul said of facing Morant.
The two point guards are separated by 14 years.
Thunder assistant coach Maurice Cheeks told Paul that it reminded him of when he faced Kevin Johnson for the first time. Johnson, a three-time All-Star point guard for the Suns, entered the league in 1987. Cheeks had been in the league nine years by then.
"I played against Ja in camp, but it was totally different," Paul said. "Ja is great and he’s going to be great for a long time.”