Ja Morant took center stage last season, establishing himself as one of the NBA’s most popular superstars. Incredible highlights, a controversial award win, and an entertaining playoff run have only added to the legend of Ja. Will Morant continue his ascension this season and cement himself as one of the league’s best?
Top NBA Players 2022-23: #13 Ja Morant
Morant was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player last year and earned his first trip to the All-Star game. The award proved to be big news around the league, as many felt that giving the award to a former Rookie of the Year and current All-Star was missing the award’s intended mark. Many felt that Jordan Poole was the better fit for this award, considering his rise from the NBA’s G-League. Morant poured gas on this fire in the kindest way possible, gifting the award to his teammate, Desmond Bane. While this move certainly enraged many a Twitter user, it goes to show the type of leader and teammate that the young point guard is so early in his career.
Morant did improve significantly from his sophomore season. His 27.4 points per game was a career-high, and he improved his shooting percentages across the board from 2020-21. Additionally, Morant’s averages increased in all major stats except assists, which declined a bit from 7.4 to 6.7 per game. He clearly became the leader of the Memphis Grizzlies offensively, taking significantly more shots from the floor (including more threes) than years prior.
Morant was the sixth youngest player in NBA history to record a 25-point triple-double. While he suffered a minor sophomore shooting slump, his numbers have generally increased each year that he has been in the league. With a young and talented core growing around him, we should expect nothing less in 2022-23.
Ja Morant 2022-23 Expectations
Now that Morant and the Grizzlies have come to terms on a five-year maximum extension, both parties can return their focus to winning the Western Conference. Early power rankings have Memphis in the top five, and oddsmakers have them near the top ten. The team from last year is mainly intact, with the exception of Kyle Anderson, whose presence will be missed on the defensive end, and De’Anthony Melton, who is now with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Morant was a human highlight reel last year, a trend that we can expect to continue in 2022. The Murray State alum uses his size and athleticism to create turnovers that lead to explosives plays in transition. Morant has also proven to be clutch, finishing on a number of unbelievable buzzer-beaters. He is also one of the best finishers in the league at his position.
Early MVP odds have Morant in the top-10, in some instances ahead of Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, and Devin Booker. With continued improvement in both his three-point and free-throw percentages, we can expect Morant’s scoring numbers to increase again in the coming season. He is leaving points at the free throw line, especially, shooting 75% from the line over his career. Morant shot an average of 7.3 freebies per game last year, a number which should increase as his game evolves. If Ja can improve to an 85-90% free-throw shooter and up his percentage from deep by a few percentage points, he could average over 30 points per game this year.
If that happens and the Grizzlies make a run at the top seed in the west, don’t be surprised to hear Morant’s name in the MVP conversation.