Ja Morant, like Dirk and Steph Curry before him, is changing the game of basketball

Memphis Grizzlies, Ja Morant

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – JANUARY 31: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies celebrates during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on January 31, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant, like Dirk Nowizki and Stephen Curry before him, is revolutionizing basketball. And you’re watching it happen in real-time.

Dirk Nowitzki changed the game in the early aughts for big men in the NBA. No longer could the tallest players just camp out in the lane, post up and bully their way to the basket. Dirk changed that and brought it into the mainstream.

The 7-footer from Germany possessed a lethal and accurate three-point shot that few (if anyone) comparably sized players could do at the time.

Then, in the 2010s, “undersized” Stephen Curry redefined what it means to be a great three-point shooter. The range, accuracy and quickness with which he can shoot the ball has never been done before in the NBA. His shooting ability, when paired with his handles, passing and craftiness, make him one of the most dangerous below-the-basket players in NBA history.

Curry, still in the prime of his career, just recently became the all-time leader for three-pointers made in the NBA history when he sank 2,974th made three.

There’s a new generational talent in the NBA and he plays for the Memphis Grizzlies. The 2020s are going to be ruled by Ja Morant.

Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant possess unparalleled grit and talent

Ja Morant is different—from the physical to the trivial.

He’s popularized the half up-ponytail hairstyle (which was born out of accidental necessity). After Morant put his hair-up in December of 2020, we started seeing other stars do the same. Cleveland’s Darius Garland and Chicago’s Ayo Dosunmu are a couple of names that come to mind.

Physically, Morant is comparably sized to Stephen Curry. Morant, 22, is listed at 6’3″ and 174 pounds. Curry, 33, is listed at 6’2″ and 185 pounds.

The fanaticism and electrifying, jaw-dropping abilities that Ja Morant displays on a nightly basis have fully taken over the NBA consciousness. This, despite having just a handful of national tv games this season.

Ja Morant is changing what it means to be a great point guard. He excels at so many things, but his signature move goes a little something like this:

He dribbles the ball between the half-court line and the three point line while the offense spreads out. Morant back peddles slightly, revs up and drives full-speed ahead to the paint and finds a way to shift, dodge and glide his way to the basket for a high-percentage shot. And boy, does he love attacking the basket.

Of the 1,013 shots Morant has attempted so far this season, 732 of them have been inside the paint. Basically, three out of every four attempts from Morant has been from inside the paint. He’s taken just 60 mid-range shots and 221 shots from beyond the arc, which seems counter-intuative to today’s three-point-happy style of play.

Ja Morant leads the NBA in points in the paint per game, with 16.8 ppg. That’s a full point-and-a-half more than the next closest guy—the “Greek Freak,” Giannis Antetokounmp, who is roughly 8 inches taller and about 75 pounds heavier.

A player so small has never been so dominant and gotten whatever he wants the way Ja has. Morant is setting a new bar, perhaps unachievable for any other future player. He’s that special. But, it’s the bar nonetheless.

Moving forward, players with a similar stature of Morant are no longer going to be expected to just handle the ball, pass well and shoot threes. The Next Gen Point God posses the dominance of LeBron James, the handles of Chris Paul, the toughness of Allen Iverson and the athleticism of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

If you were to Frankenstein the perfect NBA player, you would probably come up with something a lot like Morant. He posses traits of some of the greatest players to ever play the game. And fans are taking notice, evident by having one of the most popular-selling jerseys in the NBA for the second consecutive season.

Somehow, despite the success and some of the riches that come with it, Ja Morant plays with a massive chip on his shoulder. He is out to prove something every single night. He literally imposes his will on his opponents until they bend and usually break.

Morant is one of the most athletic players in the NBA today, but make no mistake— he’s changing the very definition of what it means to be a great point guard in the NBA.