Already an NBA Rookie Of the Year, Ja Morant is slowly cementing himself as one of the most explosive and talented players in the NBA.
In his rookie season, he already was posting a 17/7 line. That's 17.8 points and 7.3 assists per game. In his third season, he's averaging 25.1 points and 6.7 assists per game. His PER is 25.5, good for 7th in the league. So far this season, he's also shooting 40% from beyond the arc, which was once described as the biggest hole in his game. These numbers all around are only going to improve.
The statistics are terrific, and they're going to continue to improve as his game grows, but these statistics don't tell the whole story.
This dunk from Morant, in a game versus the Brooklyn Nets, is the most recent poster jam, highlight play, that has been going around. There are many intangible things in life, and one of those is an x-factor that only a handful of players every generation has. Morant has it. Morant has it from the top of his head down to his sneakers. He has also shown (and said himself) that he is fearless.
"I don't fear nobody, dog," he said. "I don't care if you 7'7 or whatever, I'm coming straight at you."
Morant went for 36 points and eight assists in that first clip, in a win over Kevin Durant, James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. The Nets are the star-studded team that everyone around the NBA tagged as the team to beat, with the biggest stars. That monster dunk against Aron Baynes took place late in the fourth quarter, putting a true stamp on the game.
Morant is showing that he belongs in that conversation already. Where some people are finally asking whether Morant is an all-star, others are realizing that's a foregone conclusion.
With a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night, the Grizzlies increased their win streak to six games in a row. Morant went for 26 points, six assists, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals—in a game where the Cavaliers at one point lead by 11. Morant's leadership skills on the court are growing before our very eyes, and the Grizzlies are suddenly the fourth seed in the Western Conference, and looking like a team nobody wants to face in the playoffs.
Long Way To The Top
Morant is still looking upwards. There's no denying that Morant is the top dog yet. As long as Steph Curry plays like there's a game shark connected to the console, (aging myself here) Morant still has to climb. In fact, the statistics put him around the 6th best point guard in the league. That's a fair assessment but it's astounding when you consider the number of players who did not have as much skill and ability to dominate the game when they had only two-and-a-half seasons in the NBA. Morant is coming, and it's good to see the rest of the NBA has taken notice.