Ja Morant became the second Memphis Grizzly to be named an All-Star starter, becoming the youngest player in franchise history to earn this honor. He’s averaging 26.8 points, 6.9 assists, and 5.8 rebounds this season — joining Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Oscar Robertson, Tracy McGrady, Luka Doncic, and Jerry West as the only players 23 years of age or younger to average at least 25/5/5.
He was drafted to Team Durant alongside Joel Embiid, Trae Young, Andrew Wiggins, and Jayson Tatum — Durant’s replacement. In the All-Star format, the scores get divided into quarters, with the total score factoring into the Elam Ending, with each period winner getting money donated to a charity of their choosing. Each team got a win in the first 2 quarters and a tie in the 3rd quarter. With a target score of 163, Team LeBron ultimately got the win.
The All-Star game was nothing different than the past several seasons. No defense, lots of 3’s, flashy alley oop’s and dunks here and there, and an increased level of competitiveness into the fourth quarter. Steph Curry won the Kobe Bryant MVP award, after scoring 50 points and hitting a ridiculous 16 three-pointers.
But we’re here for Ja Morant ... only if Erik Spoelstra got the memo.
Ja Morant scored 6 points on just 3-6 shooting in an inexplicable 18 minutes. However, he made the absolute most of the 6 points, putting on an absolute clinic above the rim.
He developed a great connection with Trae Young, as they connected on two showtime alley-oop’s.
The level of difficulty was bonkers, and Morant gave the Cleveland crowd a good makeup gift for last night’s lackluster dunk contest.
Early in the 3rd quarter, a runway opened up for Morant to fly through the lane for a big jam.
There are two quick things I want to take away from this weekend for Ja Morant and the All-Star process as a whole.
First, the “coaching” from Spoelstra was absolutely asinine. Ja Morant only received 18 minutes, but also Trae Young played only 19 minutes. Meanwhile, Khris Middleton and injury replacements LaMelo Ball and Dejounte Murray all played north of 22 minutes — and played a significant portion of the 4th quarter. I’d be thinking this even if it wasn't Morant dealing with it. Starters should be playing in those final moments of the All-Star game. Those are the players the fans voted to see in this game, and this game is one for the fans and has zero competitive incentive towards it. Give the fans what they want and play the players they wanted to see in this festivity.
Ok, that rant over.
The other one is that the Ja Morant has the world on notice. It became evident when Reggie Miller called Morant the “number one box office player in the NBA.” Then, Allen Iverson — a popular player comparison for Morant — called him the “real deal” in the 3rd quarter. Finally, Morant got his own interview in the 3rd quarter, talking about his and the Memphis Grizzlies’ success this season.
Years after many people underrating Memphis, or saying that Memphis doesn’t get the respect it needs, Morant is putting the city on the map as one of the most must-see attractions in the NBA.
That’s pretty damn cool.
Ja Morant is a superstar. The world is taking notice, and the highlights and honor of his first All-Star game is just another chapter in his meteoric rise.