Sport Watch: Morant’s best pass Friday wasted by missed layup

19:20  18 january  2020
19:20  18 january  2020 Source:   sbnation.com

Rookie Morant showing why Grizzlies have 'special young man'

  Rookie Morant showing why Grizzlies have 'special young man' Ja Morant has turned heads with his highlight plays, but he's impressed Grizzlies teammates and coaches most with his desire to improve.LOS ANGELES — Sometimes, Ja Morant encounters a physical defender who hopes to intimidate him. Sometimes, the Memphis Grizzlies rookie point guard meets a swarm of double teams that hopes to overwhelm him. Sometimes, Morant sees a zone defense  a coach hopes confuses him.

It’s starting to feel like Ja Morant does something we’ve never seen before every time he takes the floor. The Memphis Grizzlies rookie point guard has helped his team make a surprising surge into the Western Conference playoff picture, dotting every signature performance with one or two highlight plays that demand to be watched again and again.

a group of people playing a game of basketball

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Morant was at his best against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday in a 113-109 win. Morant had so many incredible plays on the night, but his best won’t show up in the box score and isn’t even part of major highlight packages. Just because Jaren Jackson Jr. failed finish this beautiful dime for a bucket doesn’t mean we can ignore it.

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The reverse angle is required to appreciate this is in full.

Watch as Morant begins the play going for the poster dunk. We’ve seen him try to baptize a Cavaliers player before, and it sure looked like he was attempting to do it again. Mid-air, Morant realizes he wouldn’t be able to throw down the dunk, so he spins and hits Jackson with a behind the back pass.

The body control, the creativity, the awareness ... these are the qualities that separate an elite run-and-jump athlete from an elite basketball player. Morant qualifies as both.

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Perhaps the most amazing thing about this play is that it may not have been Morant’s best sequence of the night. While Morant finished with a relatively pedestrian stat line of 16 points and eight assists, it felt like he was trying to one-up his own brilliance on every possession.

Watch as Morant goes for the alley-oop dunk on the fast break, hangs in the air and readjusts his body to throw a feed to the trailing Jackson. He slammed this one home.

Oh yeah, Morant also had a nasty alley-oop transition dunk in this game, too. It’s like he was toying with the Cavs.

Morant is doing this every game. Remember he pulled this off against the Rockets a few days earlier?

Best of all, Morant is having a major impact on winning. The Grizzlies have won seven straight games and are firmly in the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. They are only going to get better from here. We told you the Griz would be must-see TV the day after the draft. That’s because Morant, Brandon Clarke, and Jackson just may be the NBA’s best young core.

For now, we marvel at Morant — only 20 years old — figuring out how to dominate the NBA on the fly. There might not be a more exciting player in the league right now.

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a group of men playing a game of basketball: Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) takes a shot against Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on January 17, 2020.

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