TV Review – “NBA Rooks: Ja Is Fire” on ESPN+

ESPN+ has taken us behind the scenes of our favorite sports and given us a peek into the lives of coaches, general managers, athletic directors and of course, athletes. The new series NBA Rooks gives us a look at what it’s like to be a rookie in the NBA as they make their way into the league, from the NBA Draft Lottery through the 2019-2020 season.

The latest episode, titled “Ja Is Fire,” takes a look around the league to see how the season is going for some of these rookies with a special focus on Ja Morant, who has been the most impressive of all the rookies across the league so far this season.

NBA Rooks is a show that has struggled to find a consistent formula for its episodes. You really never know what you’re going to get when you start it. But, while this may not have been my favorite episode in the series thus far, it seems to have employed a formula that would work moving forward.

As I’ve said in previous reviews, the 14-minute run time of these episodes don’t allow enough time to check in with all six rookies. Leaving RJ Barrett and Bol Bol out this week is a necessary move. Though I’m still hoping a future episode will check in with Bol and give us a look at what it’s like for a rookie to fight his way into the NBA from the G League.

With that said, we still have four players to check in on. With one player being featured in the title of the episode, you can bet he’s going to get much of the spotlight. That leaves roughly two-minute segments for Zion (who is going to make his way into each episode as he is unquestionably the biggest star on it), De’Andre Hunter and Coby White.

That breakdown of time allows the series to spotlight one player in an episode while still allowing us to check in on a few of the others. That alone is nothing new though. We’ve seen episodes break down like that before. What is new is what we saw from each player. Aside from Zion, who is recovering from an injury and has not yet played this season, we see all of the players in action on the court.

My one complaint about the last episode was that we saw a lot of talk between Barrett and White but very little basketball. This episode stays almost entirely on the court or at least in the arenas before and/or after games. We’re finally getting to see what these rookies can do in the NBA.

As I alluded to earlier, this episode focuses on Morant because he has been the most impressive rookie thus far. NBA fans are watching the latest star being born in Morant and it’s nice to get a look behind the scenes while it’s happening. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more from Morant in this series, but I would also like to see other players get the spotlight in future episodes.

This may not have been the most exciting episode of NBA Rooks (the Hunter segment was particularly dry), but it looks like we may have found the winning formula. I would maybe even cut it down to focus on only two or three players in a given episode, but at least we’re seeing some more game action now. We’ll have to wait and see if this format sticks moving forward.

The first nine episodes of NBA Rooks are available now on ESPN+. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for just $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year) and can cancel at any time.

Mike Mack
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed "nerd."