Ja Morant is a notch above past Memphis Grizzlies rookies - and he’ll only get better

Liaudwin Seaberry Jr.

The Memphis Grizzlies organization has had its fair share of young talent throughout the years, providing the city with much to cheer for. With former homegrown players such as Pau Gasol, O.J. Mayo, and Jaren Jackson currently, the Grizzlies have gifted fans with players who stepped in and performed well. Gasol earned the Rookie of the Year in 2001, averaging 17.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. Mayo started all 82 contests during the 2008 season and poured in 18 points a game. Jackson averaged 14 points and 5 rebounds per game, and he’s improved even more in his sophomore campaign. 

However, none of them compare to this year’s rookie sensation - Ja Morant. 

© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Morant’s path to a probable Rookie of the Year award appeared unlikely at the beginning of the season, with Pelicans forward Zion Williamson posing the biggest threat to him. However, due to an injury-shortened campaign from Williamson, Morant stepped to the forefront and took over with his fearless play and leadership. From the jump, Morant etched his place in the league as one of its top young stars, as he currently averages 17.6 points., 3.6 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game - superb numbers for a first-year player.

Morant’s numbers also haven’t gone in vain, as the Grizzlies sport a 32-33 record, good enough for 8th place in the Western Conference. A lot of the credit belongs to Morant, as his presence uplifted a squad with Dillion Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., and company, that Las Vegas oddsmakers predicted would only get 25 wins, to the brink of a playoff spot. 

The 20-year old drives the young Grizzlies, and is the main reason Grizzlies fans can be excited for the future. Regardless of what happens in Orlando later this month, Morant’s lock on the Rookie of the Year will remain secure.

Sorry, Zion. 

© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

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