The reigning Rookie of the Year, Ja Morant, couldn’t be stopped in the Grizzlies season opener, torching the floor with a career-high 44 points, along with nine assists and just one turnover. Yet, the record-breaking feat was still not enough to get the win against the San Antonio Spurs, 131-119.
Ja locked in the second-highest scoring performance in a season opener, trailing Elgin Baylor’s 52-point display back in 1959. However, the record he did break was the youngest player to score 40 or more points, snatching it from Shaquille O’Neal.
Ja Morant (21 years, 135 days old) is the youngest player to score 40+ PTS in his team’s season-opening game. The previous youngest was Shaquille O'Neal (21 years, 244 days old) for Orlando in 1993. #NBAVault pic.twitter.com/EVSWuBg4oC— NBA History (@NBAHistory) December 24, 2020
With a performance like that, and still not be able to drag his team to success, how far can Morant take the Grizzlies this season? He did last year was spectacular and jump-started Memphis’ rebuild and trajectory, but the team now finds themselves at a crossroad.
If Ja continues to progress, it’s hard to think of a disappointing outcome this year. Either the Grizzlies overachieve like they did last year and perhaps sneak into the Playoffs, or they fall short and wind up in the NBA Draft Lottery. Morant averaged 17.8 points, 7.8 assists, and 3.9 rebounds while shooting 47.7% from the field as the NBA’s top Rookie. If Wednesday’s performance is any indication, he’s ready to take his game to a new level.
Catch you Monday.