Week 22 NBA MVP Ladder: 5. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
Rank last week: HM
Off EPM / Def EPM: +4.8/-0.7
Ja Morant continues his ascendance as the Grizzlies keep rolling. Memphis went 3-0 against admittedly poor competition since the last rankings, and Morant is the reason why.
He doesn’t outjump other players so much as float down slower, as if gravity is reluctant to bring him back to Earth. He might have the three best highlights of the year – his ridiculous double-block, the Poeltl dunk, and that crazy halftime buzzer-beater.
Morant’s smile is contagious, and his selflessness is invigorating. Despite being a 22-year-old making MVP waves, he never forces the offense, and he celebrates his teammates’ success as much as his own.
His shooting has declined somewhat from outside, but he’s still willing to bomb away if that’s what the defense gives him. It opens up wider lanes for him to the rim, and he still leads the league in points in the paint. It’s hard to quantify, but it feels like Ja makes more shots on the way down from his jump’s apex than everyone else in the league combined.
Morant has become the soul of Memphis. He and his teammates don’t think of this year’s team as a flash in the pan, and they won’t be happy with a cute story and a first-round loss. They want a championship, and at this point, who are we to doubt them?