Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant took the NBA world by storm last season by dunking the ball with reckless abandon and almost guiding the Grizzlies to the playoffs in the rugged Western Conference. The explosive guard was named the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year. He finished his rookie season with averages of 17.8 points and 7.3 assists.
As everyone expected, Morant got off to a torrid start in Year 2 in the NBA. Through his first three games of the 2020-21 season, Morant is averaging 26.3 points and 6.3 assists while shooting 54.5% from the field.
However, in the third game of the season against the Brooklyn Nets, Ja Morant suffered a major speedbump.
Ja Morant was a monster during his rookie season
As soon as he stepped foot on an NBA floor, it was clear that Ja Morant was going to be special. He had the explosiveness of a young Derrick Rose and the dunking ability of a prime Russell Westbrook.
The Grizzlies were projected to be a lottery team in 2019-20 since Marc Gasol and Mike Conley were no longer on the team. However, Morant and fellow youngster Jaren Jackson Jr. didn’t listen to the critics and guided Memphis to 34 wins. The Grizzlies were so close to making the 2020 playoffs. They faced the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA’s first-ever play-in game and lost by a final score of 126-122.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times was the only writer to vote for New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson as Rookie of the Year, preventing Morant from unanimously winning the award. Besides Cowley messing up his vote and the Grizzlies missing the playoffs, it was a great rookie season for Ja Morant.
Ja Morant has All-Star written all over him
Ja Morant began the 2020-21 season with a 44-point outburst on opening night against the San Antonio Spurs. The former Murray State star wanted to remind everyone that he’s must-see television.
All signs point toward Morant being a perennial All-Star in the NBA. There won’t be an All-Star Game this season due to COVID-19, but hopefully, the league can have one in 2021-22, and Morant can star in the weekend’s activities.
Morant is averaging 18.2 points and 7.2 assists through his first 70 NBA games. The 21-year-old is shooting 48.1% from the floor, 33.5% from beyond the arc, and 78.0% from the free-throw line. Over the next few years, Morant’s development will be fun to watch for Grizzlies fans, who have a new franchise player to root for in the post-Marc Gasol-Mike Conley era.
The only thing that can slow down Ja Morant is injuries. Unfortunately, the South Carolina native suffered one against the Nets, and he’s going to be sidelined for the foreseeable future.
Grizzlies star will miss the next three to five weeks with a Grade 2 ankle sprain
Ja Morant suffered his ankle injury after landing on the foot of Nets swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. He left the floor in a wheelchair and later returned to the Grizzlies’ bench in a walking boot.
This is a tough blow for Morant and the NBA, as the league is in a better place when Ja is on the court playing the game he loves. Hopefully, the Grizzlies superstar can make a quick recovery and return sooner rather than later.
However, Ja Morant can’t rush back since he can reinjure himself. Even though it’s sad to see the floor general sidelined, his long-term health is critical to the Grizzlies and NBA.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.