In recent sports news, Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant made significant strides this season and was named the NBA’s most improved player of the year award on Monday, finishing well ahead of contenders with 38 first-place votes, nine second-place votes, and four third-place votes. He also finished with 221 points from 100 sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the league.
Morant was followed by Spurs guard Dejounte Murray, Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, and Warriors guard Jordan Poole in votes.
“It’s definitely big-time…The award goes to me, but I feel like it’s a team effort,” said Morant.
A True Team Player
Following the announcement, Morant tweeted a picture of the award gifted to teammate Desmond Bane, who was one of the seven players to receive first-place votes for the award.
He also tweeted, “I believe in everyday life you want to be better at your profession & as a person all the time. It becomes a constant grind, so to receive this award is a true testament to the work I put into my craft on a daily basis and for that, I’m truly grateful. MIP”
Along with Morant’s impressive campaign, he also steered the Grizzlies into tying the best regular-season mark in franchise history at 56-26.
“That pretty much just shows our work ethic, as a whole, as a team,” Morant said. “We all push each other. We all want to be better.”
“I thought we all have that ‘never satisfied’ mindset and that’s why you see three guys from the same team receiving votes for this award,”
However, it’s clear the Memphis star drove the Grizzlies into a No.2 seed in the West.
Toast To Ja’s Accomplishments
In 2020-21, Morant recorded 19.1 points per game to go along with 7.4 assists and four rebounds per contest. This year, he made an impressive leap, jumping to 27.1 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.7 rebounds in regular-season averages among 57 contests while efficiently shooting 49.3% from the field and 34.4% from behind the arc, a career-high, for the well-deserving award. Morant also established career-high averages in minutes, rebounds, steals (1.16 per game), free throws made and attempted (5.5, 7.3) and three-pointers made (1.5).
The star stated he spent the offseason working on his three-point and mid-range game.
“Those were pretty much the two main areas I worked on this past summer,” Morant said during the televised announcement of the award. “It allowed me to take a big leap in my game, as you can see from my scoring.”
After recording just one 40-point game over his first two seasons, Moran showed out with six 40-plus game performances in the 2021-22 regular season.
On top of his campaign accomplishments, Morant also made history for the franchise as he became the first player in Memphis to ever win the award and the first player to win the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week award in consecutive weeks (01/03, 01/10).
But, the 22-year-old is not finished. Morant is a strong candidate for the MVP as well.
The only player ever to win the Most Improved Player and Most Valuable Player of the year award in the same season is Giannis Antetoktounmpo.
“That’s the goal,” said Morant.
With that being said, the face of the Grizzlies franchise has little, if any, time to celebrate as he is currently in a showdown with the Minnesota Timberwolves, tied 2-2, in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Grizzlies look to take a 3-2 advantage in the series with Game 5 set for 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday at the FedExForum arena in Memphis.