Ja Morant Topped Darius Garland And Dejounte Murray To Win The NBA’s Most Improved Player Award

The Memphis Grizzlies made a substantial leap this season, zooming to a 56-26 record and blowing through any rational preseason expectation in the process. Though Memphis is renowned for depth, the Grizzlies are also led by a clear star in Ja Morant and, on Monday evening, the NBA announced that Morant is the recipient of the league’s 2021-22 Most Improved Player award.

Morant averaged 27.4 points, 6.7 assists and 5.7 rebounds in only 33.1 minutes per game this season, shooting a career-best 49.3 percent from the floor. That led to his first All-Star selection as a starting choice from the Western Conference, and Morant is the first MIP winner as a member of the Grizzlies.

Appropriately, he was notified of the win in the midst of a team huddle and in advance of the Grizzlies’ Game 5 matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Though Most Improved Player candidacies are often difficult to parse, Morant made his case in making the jump from fringe stardom to certain superstardom. He averaged more than eight points per game more in 2021-22 and posted career-best numbers in minutes, rebounds, steals, free throw attempts, three-pointers, and three-point percentage. That formula was good enough to outpace Spurs guard Dejounte Murray, who finished second, and Cavs guard Darius Garland, who finished third.

Morant famously indicated a belief that his teammate, Desmond Bane, should have been an MIP finalist in his place, and that exemplifies the impeccable locker room vibes in Memphis. Regardless, Morant is clearly on the rise and he has a piece of league-wide hardware for his mantle at an early stage in a career with a bright future ahead.