Grizzlies: 3 bold predictions for Ja Morant in 2021-22

Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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Memphis Grizzlies
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Memphis Grizzlies PG Ja Morant, Bold Prediction No. 3: Ja Morant will take big strides defensively

Something that gets swept under the rug is Ja Morant’s defense. There’s a reason for this — he’s not the greatest defender in the league. It would be far-fetched to call him a bad defender, but he has a lot of room to improve.

It can be hard to pull forth defensive stats to prove an argument, but Morant averaged 0.9 steals last season, meaning he was relatively active on the defensive end. Even though defensive rating seems like a meaningless stat, it has a certain level of accuracy to it. Morant landed at 382nd in the league, which sounds bad. That said, it puts him somewhere in the middle of the pack.

But does he need to be any better than that?

When it comes to high-usage offensive players, we’ve learned that they don’t often need to be the team’s top defenders. Nobody is expecting any All-NBA Defensive Team selections from Morant, but if he can become an above-average on-ball defender and an elite offensive player, he’ll be among the best players in his generation.

I think Ja will take huge strides forward next year defensively. He’ll have more defensive-minded guys like Ziaire Williams, Steven Adams, and Kris Dunn around to help mentor him, which should help the young point guard move forward defensively.

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Again, don’t look for his name in the NBA Defensive Player of the Year watchlist, but keep an eye out for him on defensive possessions.