Ja Morant is silly.
He’s the kind of basketball player that makes me feel bad at 23. We’re the same age (actually a few months younger than him), but he can drop 30 points a night in the NBA, and I struggle to make consistent fastball passes.
But in order to get a full appreciation of his greatness, let’s break down the play.
First of all, look at the beginning of the play. before jumping off the ground. Stephen Adams puts up a screen, and Morant convinces Trey Murphy III that he’s going to his left. Murphy shifts so far to the side that he begs Morant to go right. In Murphy’s defense, I wouldn’t be too eager to take on Adams’ screen either.
Within milliseconds, Morant had completely lost Murphy, keeping the ball in his right hand and driving down the fairway. Now, if someone like Bam Adebayo or Giannis Antetokounmpo had been there to meet him, he might have tried to catch contact and make a layup, but he was CJ McCollum in the paint.
What does Shaq say? BBQ chicken?
McCollum was actually very well placed to defend Morant’s shot…if Morant were another player in the league. No one else thought, “Okay, just let me switch hands real quick.”
Instead of stepping up and getting a hand on the ball, which McCollum might have done if Morant had gone to play normally, the Pelican guard finds himself on the wrong end of the spotlight, and is left to be clipped and shared for days to come.
Morant soared through the air, moving the ball from his right hand to his left, and dunking all over McCollum’s face. The craziest part is that Morant doesn’t even seem to get a good jump. We saw him fly much higher than this, and he was still in the air for twice as long as McCollum’s. It was just an obscene level of skill and athleticism.
And then, after the match, Charles Barclay decided that the correct consequence was that Morant does not make his teammates better and “he didn’t add that to his game”.
Morant, who averages 6.8 assists (19th in the NBA), doesn’t he make his teammates better? Sure, the Grizzlies lost, but Morant dunked the ball while switching hands, and the takeaway is he doesn’t make his teammates better? why?
It’s okay to criticize players. In fact, it is the media’s job to critique the players, their games and their teams. But after Morant had the best of the season, it was strange that the immediate takeaway was tearing up part of his game that isn’t even a huge blemish. Especially considering the Grizzlies were missing Desmond Bane – their second best player.
Anyway, in retrospect, Morant’s hand dunk might have been the highlight of the game, but he managed to put on a show all night. Both of the following clips were on the same game.
A half-pitch beater is one thing, but how in the world did he really do that steal? He seems to take the whole “eyes in the back of the head” thing a little too seriously. He turned into DeAndre Hopkins for a second there in the middle of an NBA game. Then, if that wasn’t enough, he took the ball all the way down the field to stop the ball.
Morant is a treasure, and NBA fans need to appreciate him every possible second.