In case you haven’t noticed, the Memphis Grizzlies have won their last four games in a row. They have also won 11 of their last 13 which has placed them firmly into playoff contention. There is one reason why and it rhymes with Ja Morant.
The Grizzlies first-round draft pick earlier this year, Morant is the current favorite to win this season’s Rookie of the Year award. Morant is second on the team in scoring averaging 17.5 points per game. He leads Memphis in assists with 7.2 per game and even grabs 3.5 rebounds a game.
Morant has been overlooked his entire life. He was passed over by major college programs when coming out of high school and settled on mid-major Murray State. The Racers are not a basketball powerhouse, but Morant spent two years there and terrified the college basketball world in the NCAA tournament. He was good enough by himself to beat the best teams in the country.
He’s been proving that as a rookie in the NBA. Morant proved himself early against Brooklyn and Kyrie Irving. In late October, the Grizzlies trailed the Nets by eight points late in the fourth quarter. Morant would score eight points in a 10-2 Memphis that would tie the game in the final minute.
When Irving caught an inbound pass and appeared to have a game-winning 3-pointer, Morant stepped up and used his 44-inch vertical jump to block Irving’s shot and send the game to overtime. A star was being born.
Fast forward and now Morant is leading the Grizzlies back to relevancy. With its fourth consecutive win, a 127-106 victory over the Knicks, Memphis is now eighth in the Western Conference standings. Morant scored 18 points and had 10 assists in that win and is poised to become the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.
Since missing four games with an injury, Morant has come back with a vengeance. Memphis is 18-8 since the injury and is primed to make the postseason long before anyone thought. Memphis might not be worthy of an NBA title, but Morant’s exploits at least make the Grizzlies relevant again.