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Ja Morant named 2021-2022 Kia NBA Most Improved Player

Big things for Big 12

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Utah Jazz Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA announced Tuesday evening that Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies had been named the 2021-2022 Kia NBA Most Improved Player. Morant was nominated along with Dejounte Murray of the San Antonio Spurs for the honor, as well as Darius Garland of the Cleveland Cavaliers. They finished in that order - Murray 2nd, and Garland 3rd - with Jordan Poole and Memphis’ own Desmond Bane rounding out the top-5.

It is a well-deserved honor for a player that received his first All-Star Game start this season, and even though his playing time did not increase drastically (33.1 minutes per game this season as opposed to 32.6 last) his statistical output surely did. Morant scored 27.4 points per game (8.3 better than the previous season) while also racking up career best per game shooting percentages, rebounds, steals, and free throw attempts. Ja finished the NBA regular season 9th in Player Efficiency Rating (24.4), 14th in Value over Replacement Player (3.9), and 5th in usage (33.7%) per basketball-reference.com.

For two consecutive weeks (January 3rd and 10th), Morant was named Player of the Week for the Western Conference. Over that span of time, you’d be hard pressed to find a player in the National Basketball Association more influential to their team winning than Ja Morant.

Ja has helped the Grizzlies achieve at historic levels this season as an offense, including his own individual performances like the 52-point game against the Spurs on February 28th. He has Memphis in the top-10 in apparel sold, and was the #9 jersey in the entire NBA the last half of this past season. Morant makes the Grizzlies whole standard work. He is the straw that stirs the drink both on and off the floor, and while the argument can be made he was supposed to be this good - or he was already pretty good last season - Ja made the leap from star to superstar in such a way that he and his Grizzlies were the feel good story of the entire NBA regular season.

Congratulations, Big 12. Another trophy for the collection. We’ve got a feeling there’s more where that came from.

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