If you don’t like Ja Morant then you just don’t like entertaining basketball. Morant is one of the brightest up-and-coming stars in the NBA and he represents everything good and pure about the league. He’s a small school product that didn’t just go one-and-done after his freshman year in college. In a league that has been defined recently by superstars maneuvering their ways to different markets, he plays for one of the smallest markets in the NBA. He doesn’t hunt for fouls on offense, stand in the corner and shoot threes, or slack off on defense, he does stuff like this on offense and like this on defense.
The thing about Morant though is that he is not just an extremely athletic player that produces a few highlights a game. In just his third year in the league, he has developed into one of the best guards in basketball and staking his claim as one of the best players as well. In the Grizzlies game against the Spurs on Monday, the same one he had that monster dunk over Jakob Poeltl, Morant set a Memphis franchise record for points in a game. Now, normally that would be bigger news except he had already set the record two days earlier against the Bulls. That still does not take away from the fact that he became the first Grizzly in history to score over 50 points when he dropped 52 against San Antonio. Sure, Memphis isn’t the most storied franchise in the NBA but it has still had players like Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Zach Randolph play some of their best seasons for the Grizzlies. And in a league where Corey Brewer, Terrence Ross, and Brandon Jennings have dropped 50-pieces, you would think someone would have done it for Memphis by now. But that is not the case, leaving Morant to be the guy to finally break that barrier. It shouldn’t really surprise anyone that he hit that mark because he holds four of the top five single-game points records for the Grizzlies in his 178 games for them, including three of those four performances in his last four games.
If you didn’t view Morant as a superstar before his most recent performance you must have changed your mind by now or else you are one of those stubborn sports fans that seem to be so rare today (did the sarcasm come across as I intended?). With his 52-point performance, Morant joins Trae Young, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, Stephen Curry, Jaylen Brown, and Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only players this year to hit the 50-point mark. Not only that, but Morant is behind just Young, who scored 56 points in a game, for most points this season. That group is full of multiple-time All-Stars, First-Team All-NBAers, MVPs, and current MVP candidates. Morant is not any of those things yet but he is very well on his way to achieving all of them on his way to becoming possibly the most entertaining player in the NBA.