In 33 minutes per game across 37 games this season Morant is averaging 25.8 points per game on 48.9% shooting. He is posting career highs per game in three point percentage (35.8%), rebounds (5.9), and steals (1.3). His advanced numbers are also elite - he is currently 10th in the NBA in PER (Player Efficiency Rating, 25.0) as well as assist percentage (34.6%), and 8th in Box Plus/Minus (+6.2) according to basketball-reference.com. He’s never carried more of a burden for Memphis - his 34% usage rate, also a career high, is in the 95th percentile in the NBA per Cleaning the Glass - but he’s also never been more effective as a scorer (80th percentile in Field Goal Percentage at 53%) or disruptor of offenses (middle of the pack in steal percentage, up to the 52nd percentile from 20th last season).
From highlight plays night after night to the numbers backing up what your eyes are telling you, Ja Morant is a superstar. He has led the Memphis Grizzlies to a completely unexpected 33-17 record - on pace for 54 wins this season - and the unlikely place they currently hold in the NBA standings. Memphis is 3rd in the Western Conference entering Thursday’s games, almost 8 games out of the play-in tournament they have competed in the last two seasons and closer to the #1 seed Suns (6.5 games ahead of the Grizzlies) than they are to falling back in to the #7 seed. The Memphis Grizzlies have the 3rd best win percentage in the NBA, and if they were in the Eastern Conference they would be the #1 seed.
Many players and coaches have played a role in this remarkable run. But one player is at the center of it all. And come February 20th in Cleveland, he will be able to display his skills on the biggest in-regular season stage the NBA has to offer.
Congratulations to “The First” Ja Morant. “Big 12” has been heard.