After breaking the internet last season, Ja Morant has wasted no time doing the same to open the 2022-23 campaign.
Just two games into his fourth season in the league, Morant has wowed with his playmaking, athleticism and scoring ability, reminding us all that he's the definition of a showman, even when the play doesn't count.
His latest exploit is a 49-point performance in which he delivered multiple "Ja-dropping" highlights that are becoming the norm but are far from normal.
With Morant's ascension toward NBA superstardom comes a host of superstar-caliber moments. You know what that means: roll the tape!
Let's start on the defensive end. Defense wins championships, right? The art of the chase-down block is one we've seen mastered by the likes of LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who are listed at 6-9 and 6-11, respectively. If James and Antetokounmpo mastered it, then Morant is redefining it, using his otherworldly athleticism at 6-3 to make chase-down blocks seem routine for a point guard.
These blocks shouldn't be routine for a point guard.
There's something to be said about making the abnormal look, well, normal. Two of Morant's 49 points against the Rockets came in the form of an off-hand dunk in transition that he put home almost matter-of-factly.
12 IS THE HIGHEST IN THE ROOM pic.twitter.com/a35fHcaIzh— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) October 22, 2022
Morant makes a shift in direction, changes speed and then makes the correct decision to finish above the rim with his off-hand in a blink. If anything, that's probably a reverse layup for a typical point guard, but Morant is anything but.
As for the showmanship, Morant makes "typical" point guard stuff look pretty cool, too.
When No. 12's in action, you can count on seeing at least one highlight. And with respect to highlights, it's impossible to praise Morant's play without including the highlights of his outburst against the Rockets. He put up those 49 on 17-of-26 (65.4 percent) shooting, by the way.
Houston won't be competing for any hardware this season, but every bit of Morant's performance was necessary: he was plus-23 in the box score for the 31 minutes he was on the court. (He scored 49 points in 31 minutes!)
With Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ziaire Williams sidelined to open the season, Morant's doing all that's necessary for his team to pick up wins until they're at full strength.
Morant's style and substance will allow him to continue to dominate highlight packages and keep the Grizzlies among the top teams in the West standings.