The Memphis Grizzlies desperately needed Ja Morant’s presence. They had been one of the worst teams in the NBA through the first two months of the season, limping out to a 6-19 start through their first 25 games. But they were without their star and most important player during that stretch, as Morant was serving the 25-game suspension that was served to him during the off-season.
NBA: Morant, Embiid Named Players Of The Week
Ja Morant and Joel Embiid have been named Western and Eastern Conference Players of the Week, the NBA has announced 🔥
28.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 9.0 APG
40.7 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 6.0 APG pic.twitter.com/7FWFTPcnuA
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) December 26, 2023
He has turned the team’s fortunes around, at least during his first week back. He was the hero in his first contest against the New Orleans Pelicans last Tuesday, as he finished with 34 points and the eventual game-winning bucket. He struggled a bit from the floor in the team’s next game, but he was able to drop 20 as the Grizzlies dropped the Pacers for back-to-back wins.
But his most impressive showing thus far was Saturday’s game in Atlanta. Morant made 14 of his 25 field goal attempts on his way to 30 points, and dished out 11 assists to finish with his first double-double of his young season. Memphis won again, defeating the Hawks by a score of 125-119.
For his efforts, Ja Morant has been named the NBA Western Conference Player of the Week. He averaged 28 points, 9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds in his first three games since returning. Joel Embiid was the winner in the Eastern Conference.
Can The Grizzlies Rebound From A Terrible Start?
Ja Morant has been named player of the week in his first week back
Tough 🔥 pic.twitter.com/MJNXByuUZB
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) December 26, 2023
The Grizzlies have now won three games in a row, which is tied for the second-longest current winning streak in the NBA. But is it too little too late? The team is still 9-16 and a full five games behind the Golden State Warriors for the 10th and final playoff spot, meaning it would be a serious uphill climb just to get back into Play-In Tournament contention.
But the areas that Memphis lacked in early in the year are some of the ones that Morant excels in the most, and the positivity of his presence has been apparent over the first two games. The remaining schedule for the calendar year won’t do them any favors, though, as they will finish off 2023 by playing games against the Pelicans, Nuggets, Clippers, and Kings.
But if the Grizzlies are able to string together a few more impressive wins, then they could be one of the dark horse playoff teams out West as we hit the New Year.