Ja Morant’s first career game for the Memphis Grizzlies ended with a 111-100 win over the Golden State Warriors. The 22 year old rookie has quickly been becoming an integral part of this team and is building his legacy to take on LeBron James once he arrives in 2019. With a lot of help from Marc Gasol, Ja converted 6 three pointers and led Memphis to their fifth consecutive victory. While it was not without adversity, there are definitely signs that this will be another exciting NBA season in Memphis

The “nba grizzlies” is the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that has been taken for granted for years. However, after a statement win over the Golden State Warriors, they are now contenders.

Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies Must Be Taken Seriously as Contenders After Statement Win Over Golden State Warriors

Kids were still waiting for Santa Claus to bring the gifts when the Memphis Grizzlies last lost a game, and Ja Morant had just returned from an injured knee. The Memphis Grizzlies lost 113–104 at the Golden State Warriors to start a three-game road trip on Dec. 23. Memphis extended their winning streak to ten games with a 116–108 victory against the same Warriors at FedExForum on Jan. 11, marking the first time the club has won at least ten games in a single season.

On Jan. 13, the Grizzlies take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in an attempt to match the team record of 11 straight wins, which they established at the conclusion of 2013–14 and the start of 2014–15. But it’s much more than a few weeks’ worth of victories. Memphis has a 20–4 record since Nov. 28, the best in the NBA throughout that time period. The Grizzlies are brazen, but they’re also a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference.

The Memphis Grizzlies are unstoppable.

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The Memphis Grizzlies are known for their tenacity. With Ja Morant out for 12 games due to an injured knee, the Grizzlies went 10–2. Dillon Brooks (ankle) and Steven Adams (health and safety procedures) were both out against the Warriors on Jan. 11. Memphis didn’t skip a beat throughout the game.

Brooks’ departure is an important one. With a significant ankle injury, he’ll be out for three to five weeks. In addition, he missed the first ten games of the season due to a fractured left hand. In the meantime, the 2017 NBA Draft’s 45th overall selection continued to defy his draft position, scoring 18.4 points per game.

The Grizzlies have utilized 11 different starting lineups this season, none of which have lasted more than 12 games. They are, nevertheless, a top-10 offensive (fifth) and defensive (tenth) club in the NBA, with the seventh-best net rating (plus-4.1 points per 100 possessions).

Yes, their net rating was boosted by their 73-point thrashing of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 2.

Memphis, on the other hand, is fourth in offensive rating and first in defense and net rating during their 20–4 run. In their previous 24 games, the Grizzlies have outscored opponents by 12.9 points per 100 possessions. That isn’t entirely due to a single game.

Ja Morant’s third-year improvement is incredible.

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No one questioned the Pelicans’ decision to choose Zion Williamson with the first overall choice in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Memphis Grizzlies, on the other hand, are delighted Ja Morant was on the board when the following pick was made.

Morant was named Rookie of the Year in 2019–20 and led the Memphis Grizzlies to the playoffs the previous season.

However, in his third year, he has made a quantum jump. In 32.4 minutes per game, Morant averaged 24.9 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.7 rebounds. In identical playing time last year, he put up 19.1 points, 7.4 assists, and 4.0 boards.

What’s different now?

For starters, he’s suddenly a legitimate 3-point threat. Morant shot 30.3 percent on 3.8 triple attempts per game last season. He’s shooting 37.9% on 4.1 attempts a game this season. He’s also improved his floater range touch and is more willing to attempt such shots.

Last season, he hit 37.2 percent of his shots from three to ten feet, accounting for 26.1 percent of his total. These percentages are 42.3 percent and 32.2 percent, respectively, this season. When you add in greater rim efficiency (71.2 percent in the restricted area), you have a much more potent scoring threat.

Add in his jaw-dropping athleticism, which enables him to snag layups in mid-air, and you have a future All-Star on your hands.

For the Memphis Grizzlies, Zack Kleiman is making all the correct moves.

Ja Morant has the Memphis Grizzlies soaring up the Western Conference standings. And it looks like they're here to stay.

Ja Morant has the Memphis Grizzlies soaring up the Western Conference standings. And it looks like they're here to stay. The Memphis Grizzlies have soared to the top of the Western Conference rankings thanks to Ja Morant. And they seem to be here to stay. | Getty Images/Justin Ford

Since taking over as the Memphis Grizzlies’ executive vice president of basketball operations in April 2019, Zack Kleiman has continued to make sound judgments.

In what was meant to be a lengthy rebuilding process, his first move was to sign Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Taylor Jenkins, who is 101–87.

The pick of Ja Morant and the use of cap space to acquire assets were among Kleiman’s first personnel decisions. But, two years later, he has a squad full of youthful athletes who are complimented by older role players.

Aside from Durant and Brooks, Desmond Bane, a second-year winger, is having a breakout season. Bane has almost quadrupled his scoring after being promoted to a full-time starting position, while maintaining the efficiency he shown as a rotation player as a rookie.

Adams’ replacement of Jonas Valaninas looked to be a step backwards. Adams, on the other hand, does not need the ball to be happy. Instead, he’s content to lay brick-wall screens, rebound everything, make sound defensive choices, and perfectly suit Memphis’ classic grit-and-grind ethos.

The Grizzlies have surpassed the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference rankings during the previous three weeks and are now 3.5 games behind the Phoenix Suns for the best record in the NBA. A top-four spot for Memphis looks to be a fait conclusion, with a 5.5-game lead over the fifth-place Dallas Mavericks.

It’s been a whirlwind of activity. To be sure, Morant is the main attraction. The Memphis Grizzlies, on the other hand, are a legitimate NBA team. You should ignore them at your risk, and be prepared for Ja Morant and company to scream about it.

Basketball Reference, Stathead, and NBA.com provided the statistics.

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RELATED: Where Does Ja Morant Rank Among the Best Point Guards in the NBA?

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