Ja Morant just wants his respect. And he feels like he’s earned it.
Just into his third season in the NBA, the Grizzlies guard is now regarded to be in the upper echelon of the NBA. But it wasn’t like that for the first two seasons of his career. That’s left a chip on the shoulder of Morant, one that isn’t leaving him anytime soon.
“I feel like it took me averaging 35 points a game to finally get some All-Star recognition,” Morant said to Yahoo Sports. “But, I really can’t speak too much on that. I feel like my chip will never leave.”
Morant, 22, is playing like someone with a massive chip, tying for the league lead in points per game with the Warriors’ Stephen Curry (28.7 PPG). Morant is also averaging 7.7 APG and 5.2 RPG, blossoming into an all-around point guard.
To the casual fan, Morant is a new star on the scene. For Morant, this is validation that he’s as good as he’s always thought he was. Just like when he thought he should’ve been an All-Star last season.
“I was in position to be an All-Star my first two years and didn’t make it. That bothered me a lot,” Morant said. “So I just stopped focusing on that and just focusing on my play. I’m a winner, and that’s the main goal. If I do that, everything else will take care of itself. I just got to control what I can control and that’s my play on the floor.”
The 2019 second overall pick came into the league as an unknown, largely due to playing at Murray State and a lack of competition faced in college. That didn’t stop Curry, who dominated at Davidson or Portland’s Damian Lillard, who excelled at Weber State. That’s the ceiling Morant sees himself at, one that takes place in Memphis.
“I’m just happy that I got picked where I’m at right now,” Morant said. “I love the Grizzlies organization, I love the fans. If I went back to that draft, I hope I go No. 2 again.”