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
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Zion Williamson

The last entry on the list is an individual who always seems to find himself in the limelight while simultaneously taking on a hefty amount of criticism. Zion Williams finds himself as the likely captain of the New Orleans Pelicans next year if Brandon Ingram decides to leave, and has shown flashes of absolute dominance.

Coupled with an undeniable presence during the regular season during which the forward played 70 games, Zion was listed in the 10th overall slot in the Next Gen rankings, enough to tie him with Morant.

Naturally, the two have often been compared due to being drafted with the first two picks of the 2019 NBA Draft despite playing radically different positions and boasting completely different styles.

Early on, a great deal of criticism of Williamson stemmed from the belief that his regular seasons were less than satisfactory. From 2019 through the 2022-2023 season, the forward only played a grand total of 114 games.

Looking to disperse the critics who had labeled him injury-prone and unreliable, Williamson saw an impressive 2023-2024 campaign end rather unceremoniously, as yet another injury kept him from seeing the floor in the playoffs sans the single Play-In game which he was available for.

To be fair, Zion was absolutely electric during the aforementioned outing against the Lakers.

Despite finding a good rhythm during the first Play-In game, Williamson sustained a hamstring injury that ended up keeping him out for the following matchup as well as the Pelicans' first-round series against Oklahoma City.

Where the disconnect between Williamson and Morant begins to strongly manifest is the firsthand results from season to season as well as the level of leadership established. It should come as no surprise that the Grizzlies rally around Morant, and he, in turn, uses their passion to help push the team to success and magnify the talents surrounding him.

Compared to this, Zion takes a rather different approach, opting for a "call my own shot" type of mentality which rightfully allows him to unleash his overwhelming offensive prowess while still coordinating with other key players such as Brandon Ingram and Herb Jones.

Where Williamson has yet to prove himself as a consistent leader and centerpiece for a playoff-caliber team (although this year was a good step in the right direction), Morant showed just how lethal the Grizzlies can be under his steady hand such as during the 2022-2023 season in which Memphis secured the second-best record in the Western Conference.

Although the potential for future success is a metric that analysts opted to utilize in comparing players for this list, it would seem overly optimistic to conclude that Williamson's potential warrants him sitting in a similar position to Morant.