Grizzlies: 4 players unjustly ranked higher than Ja Morant on 'Next Gen' list

New Orleans Pelicans v Memphis Grizzlies
New Orleans Pelicans v Memphis Grizzlies / Justin Ford/GettyImages
4 of 5

Tyrese Maxey

Yet another case of recency bias, Tyrese Maxey finds himself in a similar situation to the other players already mentioned who ranked highly based primarily on the 2023-24 campaign. Maxey, who is only 23, spent a fair portion of the NBA season trying to hold down the fort in Philadelphia while former MVP Joel Embiid rehabbed from injury.

During the time in which the 76ers effectively became Maxey's to lead, the team saw mixed results, as they slipped down in the eastern conference standings and found themselves entering the postseason as a seventh seed and were forced to face the New York Knicks in round one.

Despite skepticism as to whether or not Embiid would even be able to play, the 76ers put up a valiant fight before eventually losing in six games that were riveting from start to finish.

During the series, Maxey imposed himself on the Knicks as a crafty and agile offensive threat who could effortlessly pull up from beyond the arc and bury three-pointers to hold the Knicks at bay.

This type of energy was best highlighted during the Sixers' Game 5 win against New York, which saw Maxey play a herculean 52 minutes and hit countless difficult shots.

In the grand scheme, Maxey individually had a tremendous season capped off by putting the league on notice. The Sixers weren't simply Joel Embiid's team to try and carry, and there was a lethal arsenal waiting in the wings (or in this case, the backcourt).

At the same time, juxtaposing Maxey's season with the Grizzlies star poses numerous questions: How well would Maxey perform if consistently the number one option? Does he retain the momentum after winning Most Improved Player and grow further both offensively and defensively?

These types of questions remain yet to be answered, though it is certainly premature to label him a more valuable prospect compared to Morant based on one series of postseason battles alone.

Comparatively speaking, Maxey took proper steps toward becoming a legitimate star but still has several more to go. One of which will require him to be able to fully take the reins of the team when needed as he did at the end of several games in their first-round series.

Moreover, there's a need for Maxey to better define how he wants to play and what long-term role he will serve on the Sixers. Within this, there is also the question as to whether the Sixers will continue with Embiid as their centerpiece, or gravitate more toward the explosive guard that Maxey is.

In comparison to Ja Morant, Maxey has found himself in a generally more friendly environment.

The Eastern Conference is arguably easier than the West; Maxey had his own time this season to play without Embiid (with mixed results); and the team as a whole seemed more open to Maxey taking over compared to the bedlam out in Memphis without Ja at the helm.

All signs would point to the conclusion that currently, the Grizzlies guard is both a more valuable player to his franchise as well as the overall better player with a higher upside.