A true leader is someone who can take the group on a journey. Ja Morant embodies that in all three facets of life, and has done so since day one at Murray State. He led them to their first NCAA tournament appearance in years while he was still sophmore year, then took it upon himself to lead his team deep into the second round this season before being suspended for violating recruiting rules by taking trips with coaches during non-scholarship time. The suspension didn’t stop him from winning SEC Player Of The Year honors as a sophomore; now as a junior, Morant is locked up for next summer’s NBA draft after leading Murray State back into March Madness

Ja Morant Can Officially Add ‘Leadership’ to His MVP Resume

Ja Morant Can Officially Add 'Leadership' to His MVP Resume

The Memphis Grizzlies were defeated by the Philadelphia 76ers in a hard-fought matchup on Monday night. In the 122-119 overtime defeat, Morant, Ja was exceptional once again, scoring a game-high 37 points. But the 22-year-old Morant’s post-game leadership was even more spectacular than his final stat line, providing another another reason why the young star is firmly in the MVP discussion.

Morant, Ja came close to leading the Grizzlies to a big win.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQz- XcNE-w

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The Grizzlies came into Philadelphia with a 34-18 record and three wins in a row, so they weren’t in desperate need of a victory. Any victory over a contender, on the other hand, may be utilized to make a statement by a grossly underappreciated squad.

Memphis overcame a nine-point hole in the first quarter to force overtime. Morant finished regulation with 34 points on 14-of-25 shooting. Only the second half accounted for 22 of those points. Morant’s backcourt mate, Desmond Bane, scored 29 points in regulation and five more in overtime.

Morant’s night, on the other hand, was far from ideal. The third-year guard finished 0-for-5 from three-point range and equaled a season-high with nine turnovers against a Sixers team that was without MVP contender Joel Embiid. He also shot 1-of-5 in overtime after tying the game and missing a free throw with eight seconds remaining in the fourth quarter that would have put Memphis ahead by one.

Morant acknowledged responsibility for the Grizzlies’ defeat.

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Memphis had many opportunities to win the game. Ja’s missed free throw towards the end of the fourth quarter, as well as his four straight missed baskets in overtime, were both costly mistakes. With seconds remaining in overtime, he also threw the ball to Ziaire Williams, who was unable to bury the shot.

After the game, the All-Star Game starter was questioned about his choice to pass to Williams rather than try the game-winning shot himself.

“His guy arrived to assist. Morant told the journalists, “Right play.” “I’ll make the same pass if it occurs again.” I passed because I have faith in him and know he can make that shot. I’ll pass it again if that play comes up.”

Morant, who is still just 22, also focused on his personal flaws in an attempt to accept responsibility for the loss (h/t: Memphis Grizzlies).

“There’s no need for us to be depressed or angry because [Williams] missed a shot.” If there’s anybody you want to be angry with, it’s me. I had a total of nine turnovers. Big free throws were missed. I couldn’t come up with a three. So, if you’re going to be furious at someone, make it me.”

Morant, Ja

Morant will try to redeem himself in a nationally broadcast game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

Morant’s postgame remarks reaffirm his status as a leader and MVP contender.

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Morant has a strong case for MVP based only on metrics. While leading Memphis from a play-in team to a championship contender, the former Murray State standout is averaging 26.4 points, 6.8 assists, and 6.0 rebounds. However, a fresh argument for why Ja is a genuine MVP contender was presented on Monday.

Ja, who is 22 years old, is obsessed with winning games. The numbers are impressive, but he will do everything it takes to help the Grizzlies win. So be it, if it means passing the ball to an open rookie for the game-winning shot. And when he makes mistakes like missing free throws or turning the ball over, he takes full responsibility. No matter how bad things go, he won’t put his comrades under the bus.

Despite just being in his third professional season, Ja is more comparable to Giannis/Curry/LeBron than his younger contemporaries. Not simply because of the stats, but also because he’s shown that he can be a number one choice for a championship contender while also being a leader. He’s clearly dedicated to Memphis in the long haul and is actively involved in the development of a long-term contender.

Ja is, by all accounts, a winner. Even when the Grizzlies had a bad night.

Basketball Reference provided all statistics.

RELATED: Morant, Ja Dunked on ESPN for Inadvertently Disrespecting the Memphis Grizzlies: ‘That Game Right There Was for You Too’

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