In 2020 he was named the National Basketball Association’s Rookie of the Year, and last year, he guided a young, still-developing team to the playoffs, where it took a game from the top-seeded Utah Jazz.
Now, the Grizzlies are a force, and so is Morant.
If some have doubted if he has become a true superstar yet, he has gradually erased such doubts, and now no one can ignore that he is already a nightmare for the rest of the league.
Morant Has Gone From Good To Great This Year
In 2021, the 6-foot-3 point guard was a very good player.
He averaged 19.1 points per game and 7.4 assists per game while providing plenty of highlight plays.
Ja Morant is 1 of the best dunking PG’s in the game.
His top 10 dunks from the 2020-21 season: pic.twitter.com/BnlI19gOZ2
— Pro Sports Outlook (@PSO_Sports) August 25, 2021
Everyone knew he was going up fast, but it was also somewhat unclear how great he would eventually become and how fast he would get there.
Well, this year he took a huge step forward, putting up 27.4 points a game and earning his first trip to the NBA All-Star Game.
He improved his overall shooting accuracy from 44.9 percent last year to 49.3 percent this year, and his 3-point shooting, which had been a weakness, also got better, as he shot 34.4 percent from downtown compared to 30.3 percent last season.
On six occasions this year he has scored at least 40 points, which included a 52-point effort on 22-of-30 shooting against the San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 28.
— NBA BASKETBALL (@DejoseMark) March 1, 2022
It’s one thing to play very well on a mediocre team, which is what Memphis was the past two years, but it’s another thing to do what Morant has done on a very good team, particularly in big games and big moments.
Morant Has Done Well Under Pressure
As a rookie, Morant led the Grizzlies into the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World Resort, where they faced Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers in the league’s first-ever play-in tournament.
In that contest, he put up 35 points and eight assists, and although Memphis lost 126-122, he outplayed Lillard, who had 31 points on 6-of-15 shooting.
In 2021, the ninth-place Grizzlies took on the Golden State Warriors in the play-in tournament, and Morant again had 35 points, this time in a victory that got his team into the postseason.
Memphis won 56 games this season, a big jump from its 38-34 record a year ago, and is involved in a heated first-round playoff matchup against another young and dangerous team in the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In Game 5 on Tuesday, Morant was playing poorly for much of the contest, but he came on in crunch time and made the game-winning shot.
JA MORANT OH MY GOODNESS 😱
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 27, 2022
JA MORANT FOR THE WIN pic.twitter.com/O5jTjhDMHW
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) April 27, 2022
He finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists, and because of his exploits, his Grizzlies now hold a vital 3-2 lead over Minnesota.
If they advance and face the Warriors in the second round of the playoffs, that matchup would be must-see TV.