The former second overall pick is leading the league in scoring at 35.3 points per game to start the year. Morant led the Grizzlies to a 134-124 shootout win over the Brooklyn Nets Monday. The Murray State product posted 38 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while shooting 12-of-22 from the field and 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Nets star Kevin Durant had high praise for the young guard postgame.
“He’s the most marketable guy in our league, the face of our league going forward,” Durant said via ESPN's Nick Friedell. “So many kids are inspired by what he does.”
Ja Morant tonight in the @memgrizz win:
— NBA (@NBA) October 25, 2022
Morant averaged 27.4 points, 6.7 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game for Memphis last season. The guard made his first All-Star appearance and was selected Second-Team All-NBA on his way to leading the Grizzlies to the second seed in the Western Conference. Durant is all too familiar with the fourth-year guard. Morant torched Brooklyn last season to the tune of 36 points on 14-of-22 shooting.
While Ja Morant is among the most explosive athletes in the league, he has also developed a well-rounded offensive game as a high-level ball handler, passer and three-level scorer. The most frequent criticism surrounding Morant's game has been his struggles from 3-land. The former Rookie of the Year shot just 32.7 percent from deep on 3.6 attempts per game in his first three seasons.
However, Morant has been deadly in that area to open the 2022-23 season, shooting 12-of-20 (60 percent) from 3-point range in four games. The addition of a consistent 3-point shot to Morant's already diverse offensive arsenal could have him threatening to win the scoring title in his fourth season.
When asked if the point guard reminded him of anyone, Durant credited Morant as one of the more unique players he has faced.
“Nobody really,” Durant said. “He's a unique player. A lot of athleticism and creativity out there. Body type reminds you of somebody like — well he's taller than A.I. (Allen Iverson), but a wiry, strong player … but he's an incredible player, man.”
Memphis once again has high hopes with a talented young core of Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks and more. With their superstar point guard ascending faster than many could have expected, the Grizzlies should be a fixture in the Western Conference for years to come.