PG – 6’0, 180lbs – Born 23rd May 1995
Jonathan Stark was the Ja Morant before Ja Morant. The two briefly play together at Murray State for one season, and whereas the over-exuberant, dynamic yet wild Morant (at that time) would be the spectacular if inconsistent playmaker, Stark would be the half-court scorer. It is thus good to see him get back into a full-time point guard mentality, just as he had been before his unison with Ja.
To be sure, Stark can score the ball. Small though he is, he plays off the ball, getting to the rim on curl plays and shooting a nice pull-up. Stark puts in a lot of movement off the ball, using a lot of baseline cuts as well as being in motion endlessly above the break, pushing the ball in transition, shooting with a quick release and with NBA range. There would be some heat checks, and Stark, recognisant of his small size, would use subtle fakes and a high floater inside the arc rather than take on the trees, which is inefficient if necessary. Yet he scored 20 points a game playing as a primary scorer alongside Morant, and the fact that he can do that whilst also playing as an on-ball lead guard, a genuinely good pick-and-roll passer and post feeder, makes for a versatile and skilled offensive player even with the small size.
The small size does prove to be an obstacle defensively, where, despite a good effort level and few mistakes, Stark finds it difficult to apply ball pressure or bump people off the spot. He will work to recover and pursue, gets low and chases hard, yet it is difficult for him to make an impact, even at the smaller point guard spot, with that size. But the fact that he can score and create, pass and shoot, doing so with good energy and with such a strong assist to turnover ratio, makes him an excellent combo guard at this level.
– 20th June, 2019
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