Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant receives harsh reality check regarding legacy

The Memphis Grizzlies superstar is in desperate need of a redemption season.
Memphis Grizzlies v New Orleans Pelicans
Memphis Grizzlies v New Orleans Pelicans / Sean Gardner/GettyImages

When found on the hardwood, Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is genuinely one of the game's most exhilarating and entertaining talents to watch. While throwing down highlight-reel dunks and showing off his astounding quickness, the 24-year-old's ascension from a promising young stud to a legitimate NBA superstar proved astronomically quick.

Then in year five, following a string of poor off-court decisions and health-related ailments, all of this hype and allure seemed to take a major hit.

From pulled endorsement deals and league-issued suspensions, Morant's immature actions have cost him quite a bit from a financial standpoint, but many such as sports media personality Bill Simmons believe they may have also cost him his legacy that, at one point, seemed to be on its way toward all-time status.

Grizzlies star Ja Morant receives reality check on legacy status

During a recent episode of The Bill Simons Podcast, Simmons, along with special guest Ryen Russillo of The Ringer, discussed players who have taken a hit when it relates to their reputation over the last few seasons who could use for a strong 2024-25 campaign to "flip their legacy."

Unsurprisingly, the Grizzlies superstar was a name discussed during the segment, though his inclusion veered heavily from the others mentioned considering he's still such a young player in the association.

Labeled by Simmons as someone "we're all disappointed in" and who he's "worried that it's going to keep going sideways," the fear for him is that, should the guard not find a way to reconstruct his image starting next season, Morant could join the conversation of "disappointing superstars who their career got f*cked up in some way."

That said, despite all this, when assessing the current makeup of this Memphis team moving forward, Simmons still believes that the immediate future could still be blisteringly bright for both the two-time All-Star and the organization as a whole, and even suggests Morant could have a similar impact as Anthony Edwards did for this year's Western Conference runner-ups, the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"If you look at their summer, and their roster, and their pieces combined with the fact that they have the ninth pick and hopefully [Ja] comes back with his head on straight, I don't know. They're left out of that Western conversation and I don't know if I would leave them out because there's no reason he can't at least imitate Edwards from an offensive statistics standpoint. He's not going to imitate the defense part, but could he basically be Edwards for Memphis? Yea, I think he could."

Bill Simmons

This is far from the first time Morant has found himself linked to the likes of Edwards. Amid the latter's latest deep postseason excursion, the two were seen heavily intertwined within a widespread debate among fans over who is more deserving of being viewed as the "face of the league" when serving as full participants.

In the end, the two are very different brands of talents though are equally as deserving to be included in such a conversation.

When a full-go, Morant is undoubtedly one of the league's top point guards, let alone one of their best overall players. During the two seasons prior to his suspension and injury-riddled 2023-24 campaign, the star guided the Grizzlies to a total of 107 wins, the franchise's only two Southwest Division titles, and, in 2022, their first semifinal appearance in nearly a decade

This past season fans were pleasantly reminded of the type of impact and effect Morant has on this Memphis team, as he lit up the stat sheet with 34 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block while guiding the club back from a 24-point deficit and cashing in on a buzzer-beating game-winner all in his return game against the New Orleans Pelicans back on December 19.

His productivity would remain steady from then on out (25.1 points, 8.1 assists, 5.6 rebounds) until he unfortunately sustained a subluxation in his shoulder during a training session that forced him to undergo surgery in mid-January and held him to a mere nine games played on the year.

As a result of his long-standing absence from in-game activity, it appears many are suffering from severe recency bias and, in turn, forget just how special of a talent Ja Morant is.

The hope heading into 2024-25 is that he can provide all with a much-needed reminder by helping the Grizzlies rise from current cellar-dweller status and back into the contender conversation in the Western Conference standings.

To Simmons, this franchise appears to be in an ideal position for all of this to take place, and, from a legacy standpoint, he believes Morant desperately needs a resurgat campaign to come underway.