Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant's decline from stardom started last season, but could keep spiraling this year. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with the electric guard's play for the Memphis Grizzlies. The superstar hasn't played a single game this season, but it's not because of an injury. It's because he started the season with a 25-game suspension handed down for Morant's conduct away from the court.
Morant's first suspension came in March, when NBA commissioner Adam Silver took Morant off the court for eight games after the guard displayed a gun in a social media post. Two months later, he was suspended once again for flashing a gun on social media, with this penalty bleeding into a third of the 2023-24 season.
The NBA isn't likely to put its marketing dollars behind a player who keeps getting into such public trouble. That's bound to hurt the stardom of a charismatic player who was ushering in a new era for the grizzlies after playing his college basketball as a mid-major school.
It's also hard to stay a star if you aren't playing in meaningful basketball games in the spring. The Grizzlies were expected to take a step back without Morant, but still had Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane, and Marcus Smart at their disposal. But the Grizzlies have been terrible and are six games out of a play-in spot as of the end of play on Tuesday.
Morant is set to return to the court in a few days, unless something unexpected happens. But his star has never been lower during his few seasons in the NBA.