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Ja Morant is making the Grizzlies look really, really good

Ja Morant
(Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports)

This year’s NBA season ushered in the next wave of talent in the NBA that’ll be expected to put on a show for us for roughly the next 10-15 years. The headliners of this past year’s draft class such as Zion Williamson haven’t been able to show the world what they’re capable of because of injury. Players like RJ Barrett and Coby White are starting to find their footing, however nobody has made as big of an impact as Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant. 

You know what? Let me say this as clearly as I can, Ja Morant is a bad, bad, bad motherfucker, and I’m more than happy to tell James Harden about him because Morant certainly did dropping 26 points shooting 90% from the field, and silencing doubters who criticized his jump shot. That’s just one performance in a string of many great performances that have led to Morant averaging 18 points per game and 6.9 assists per game with a very respectable 49.4 FG%/40.7 3PT%/80.4 FT% stat line. In a year where the Grizzlies should’ve been in the damn basement of the Western Conference, they’d be in the playoffs if they started today. 

Don’t ask me to list off all of the things I love about Morant, we all know how legitimate guy like James Harden, LeBron James and Giannis Antetoukounmp are, but Morant reminds me of that one player in a pickup game who’d you sell your soul to pick first. His freakish athleticism is present in every aspect of his game, he’s fearless attacking the rim, is fantastic at getting his teammates involved on the floor, and simply makes all of his teammates on the floor better. His awareness on the court is top notch, and he knows how to put not only himself but his teammates in the right position on the floor.

 According to John Hollinger, a really, really smart guy who developed a statistical measurement called the “pace factor” which basically accounts for how many possessions per game a team has, the Grizzlies rank fourth as of today in this specific measurement. This explains the fast-paced style that the Grizzlies play with that leads to most of the high scoring affairs that you’re seeing from them, and for example Morant’s tendencies to push the ball and get to the basket quickly are representative of the Grizzlies fast style of play that allow them to compete every night. 

In my personal opinion he’s a way more athletic version of James Harden that knows he doesn’t have to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, you can thank Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr’s  emergence for that. In my mind head coach Taylor Jenkins job now hinges on whether he can continue to build a contending team around Morant. If I were a Grizzlies fan I would expect a winning culture in Memphis within at least the next two years, because that’s not an unrealistic goal at all with the way this team is playing this season. 

The Rookie of the Year debate becomes more clear cut and dry everytime Morant steps onto the court. Don’t get me wrong guys like Kendrick Nunn are starting to catch my eye too, but he’s nowhere near as valuable to his team than Morant is. The Grizzlies are a top ten offense in the league right now, and are 8-2 in their last 10 games and Morant has played a huge part in that ranking. This is frankly exciting to watch not only because of Morant stellar performances but because this also may mean the Grizzlies are one piece away from being able to seriously compete with the top teams in the West. I don’t know whether they’ll search in free agency or next year’s draft for that final piece, but I do know they’re about one player away from being a serious threat in the West.

The Grizzlies should be competing for a damn lottery pick instead of a playoff spot, but here they are in the thick of everything and we’ll see how it turns out because there’s a lot of ball left to play. But with Morant’s rapid emergence, and a shining endorsement from Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady it’s only right to assume winning the Rookie of the Year conversation is just the start for this unbelievably talented individual. 

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