It’s starting to feel like Ja Morant does something we’ve never seen before every time he takes the floor. The Memphis Grizzlies rookie point guard has helped his team make a surprising surge into the Western Conference playoff picture, dotting every signature performance with one or two highlight plays that demand to be watched again and again.
Morant was at his best against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday in a 113-109 win. Morant had so many incredible plays on the night, but his best won’t show up in the box score and isn’t even part of major highlight packages. Just because Jaren Jackson Jr. failed finish this beautiful dime for a bucket doesn’t mean we can ignore it.
HOW?!— ClutchPoints NBA (@ClutchPointsNBA) January 18, 2020
Ja Morant acts like he is going to jam it on Larry Nance, then proceeds to do a 180 in mid-air, and finally drops a no-look pass to JJJ pic.twitter.com/XRzlNfb4Pc
The reverse angle is required to appreciate this is in full.
Watch as Morant begins the play going for the poster dunk. We’ve seen him try to baptize a Cavaliers player before, and it sure looked like he was attempting to do it again. Mid-air, Morant realizes he wouldn’t be able to throw down the dunk, so he spins and hits Jackson with a behind the back pass.
This no look pass by Ja Morant is absolutely filthy.— Tres Terrell (@TerrellTres) January 18, 2020
The body control, the creativity, the awareness ... these are the qualities that separate an elite run-and-jump athlete from an elite basketball player. Morant qualifies as both.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this play is that it may not have been Morant’s best sequence of the night. While Morant finished with a relatively pedestrian stat line of 16 points and eight assists, it felt like he was trying to one-up his own brilliance on every possession.
Watch as Morant goes for the alley-oop dunk on the fast break, hangs in the air and readjusts his body to throw a feed to the trailing Jackson. He slammed this one home.
LIGHTS. CAMERA. GRZ NXT GEN.— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) January 18, 2020
: @GrizzliesOnFSSE pic.twitter.com/XppLHQFD1F
Oh yeah, Morant also had a nasty alley-oop transition dunk in this game, too. It’s like he was toying with the Cavs.
JA MORANT. RISE UP. pic.twitter.com/vubJ204Lxj— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) January 18, 2020
Morant is doing this every game. Remember he pulled this off against the Rockets a few days earlier?
JA MORANT x JAREN JACKSON JR... OH MY! ✨— NBA (@NBA) January 15, 2020
: @NBATV pic.twitter.com/VtXey3nt4x
Best of all, Morant is having a major impact on winning. The Grizzlies have won seven straight games and are firmly the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. They are only going to get better from here. We told you the Griz would be must-see TV the day after the draft. That’s because Morant, Brandon Clarke, and Jackson just may be the NBA’s best young core.
For now, we marvel at Morant — only 20 years old — figuring out how to dominate the NBA on the fly. There might not be a more exciting player in the league right now.