The Memphis Grizzlies were supposed to be trash this season, but thanks to a couple of shrewd moves and the evolution of players like Dillion Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr., the Grizz made some real noise this year before stumbling into the bubble and failing to make the NBA playoffs.
But the real reason for Memphis’ surprising season was the electric play of rookie Ja Morant, who set the court on fire every time he stepped foot on it. So when the NBA announced its Rookie of the Year on Thursday, was anyone surprised who won?
“The Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant has been named the 2019-20 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, the NBA announced today. The 6-foot-3 guard is the second player to win the Rookie of the Year Award with the Grizzlies, joining Pau Gasol (2001-02).
Morant received 99 first-place votes from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters and earned 498 total points. Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn finished in second place with 204 points. New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson received one first-place vote and finished in third place with 140 points.”
Prior to the coronavirus putting the season on pause, the 2019 No. 2 overall pick put up almost 18 points a game, 3.9 boards, 7.3 dimes, had collected a rookie-high 11 double-doubles and ranked sixth in the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring average (7.3 points per game). He beat out finalists Kendrick Nunn and early-favorite Zion Williamson for the award.
“Man, it’s a blessing,” Morant said on TNT’s Inside The NBA on Wednesday. “I’m definitely honored. I put a lot of work in, day in and day out. This journey has been rough but, you know, in the end, it’s all paying off. I still have a lot more work to do, but for guys, kids who are not heavily recruited right now, this gives them hope.”
The 21-year-old also had some words for the one hater-ass hater who failed to give him a first-place vote for the award.
“I want to shoot a direct message to them and thank them for motivating me even more to do more on the floor and be better and do whatever I can to help my team in a basketball game,” he said. “So if anyone knows who that is, let me know.”
After his win became official, NBA Twitter did what it does and showed the Murray State product with much-deserved praise:
Morant also took the time to thank the fans: “Grizz Nation, our fans, appreciate y’all for being there each and every night for us. Thank you for bringing me in as family; thank you for making me feel at home.”
The boy was cold as shit this season and will continue to do damage as he beefs up and improves at absorbing contact. Look out, league.