Ja Morante Rookie of the Year was in 2020, and he vowed he’d get better from there. And he did just that.
The Memphis Grizzlies guard took home his second major award in three seasons on Monday, and was announced as the NBA’s Most Improved Player. He’s the first Grizzlies player to receive the award – and the first player in league history to win both Rookie of the Year and Most Enhanced Player.
“It’s definitely a big time,” Morant said.
Morant set his career best for scoring (27.4 points per game), rebounding (5.7), stealing (1.2) and shooting (49.3%). He averaged 19.1 goals per game last season, and he made the big jump while playing the same amount of minutes.
“This award is mine, but I feel like it’s a team effort,” Morant said.
The Grizzlies had three players who received votes for MIP – along with Morant, Desmond Ben was the fifth and Garen Jackson Jr.. It was the tenth. The trio led Memphis to the No. 2 ranked Western Conference and the second-best record in the league behind Phoenix.
At 56-26, Memphis also tied for the best regular season mark in franchise history.
“It 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 had a ‘never satisfied’ mentality and that’s why you see three guys on the same team getting votes for this award.”
Morant, this season’s All-Star and for the first time, wasn’t a runaway winner. He finished with 221 points from a panel of 100 sports writers and broadcasters covering the league, with five points for a first-place vote, three for second and one for third.
San Antonio Dignity Murray In second place with 183 points, Cleveland Darius Garland in third with a score of 178. Murray appeared on 63 ballots, more than anyone else. Garland appeared on 62 ballot papers.
Morant appeared on 51 of the 100 ballots – but he has received far more number one votes than anyone else. He had 38, while Murray had a fourth-placed 20 Jordan Paul Golden State got 15.
The 22-year-old Morant said he spent post-season working to become more consistent from the 3-point range and honing his mid-range technique.
“Those were pretty much the two main areas I worked in this past summer,” Morant said during the award’s TV commercial. “It allowed me to make a huge leap in my game, as you can see from my recordings.”
In all, 12 players got votes. Bane received seven first-place votes, Philadelphia’s votes Therese Maxi He was in sixth place and got six first-place votes, Charlotte’s votes Miles Bridges He was in seventh place and got three votes from first place.
Now Morant can set his sights on the next big prize: the best player in the league. So far, only one player – Milwaukee Giannis Antikonmo – He won the “Most Improved” award and then went on to win this trophy.
“That’s the point,” Morant said.
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