Grizzlies: Ja Morant’s 2021 season looks a lot like MVP Derrick Rose

Ja Morant and Derrick Rose, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Ja Morant and Derrick Rose, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

The Memphis Grizzlies have had some rough games in 2021 but, generally speaking, they look like a squad that can compete in the Western Conference. The Grizz have knocked off a few highly-talented squads en route to a 6-4 start on the year.

While they’ve played strong team basketball, there’s one player to thank for this start.

That player is Ja Morant, who is the Grizzlies’ franchise point guard and looks ready to have his best season yet in the NBA. After being snubbed from the NBA All-Star game a year ago, Morant has made it clear that he should make it this time around.

Grizzlies PG Ja Morant’s 2021 season is closely mirroring that of a former 22-year-old league MVP

Ja Morant has had undeniably the best start out of any season in his three years with the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s averaging new career-highs in points, rebounds, and steals and has been extremely clutch throughout the year.

The best part? His numbers are beginning to mirror that of Derrick Rose, the youngest player to ever win an NBA MVP award. Here are both guys’ stats side-by-side through ten games, according to GBB’s Shawn Coleman.

Derrick Rose (2010-11): 25.5 PPG, 8.7 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 4.0 TOV

Ja Morant (2021-22): 26.0 PPG, 7.2 APG, 5.6 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 4.1 TOV

Both were 22. Both were in their third season.

While Rose had a slight edge in assists per game, Morant hasn’t been modest sharing the ball. His assist total is on par with what he’s done in past years and he’s missing the offensive production of Jonas Valanciunas, which accounted for a large total of his assist numbers last year.

If you look even closer, you’ll see that both of these players started out hot from beyond the three-point line in their first ten games. Neither percentage will jump off of the page, but Derrick Rose’s 34% deep-range shooting and Ja Morant’s 36.7% three-point shooting would both have them at career highs at this point in their careers.

Where Morant does hold a distinct advantage over Rose is on the defensive end, where the Grizzly point guard has been extremely tenacious thus far in 2021. While Rose averaged 1.1 SPG in his first ten contests, Morant is averaging 1.6. If Morant can have a similar season offensively and play better defense than Rose did a decade ago, he’ll be an NBA All-Star lock.

That said, the numbers don’t necessarily represent Ja Morant’s likelihood of winning the MVP Award, as the offensive standard has increased in difficulty since Rose won it.

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Still, it’s nice to see the Morant is on track with one of the all-time greats at his position.