Ja Morant: From All-Star snub in 2021 to an All-Star starter in 2022

Ja Morant (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Ja Morant (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

Ja Morant has gone from All-Star snub to All-Star starter in one year. 

Memphis Grizzlies third-year superstar guard Ja Morant earned a starting spot in the 2022 NBA All-Star game. After just missing making the team last year, Morant was determined to not let that happen again. The 2019-20 Rookie of the Year knew it was going to take even more blood, sweat, and tears to get to where he wanted to be.

Last year, he fell just short of making the All-Star reserve team and was beat out by other well-respected NBA players like Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, and Donovan Mitchell. In the 2021 NBA All-Star voting, Morant earned 556,311 total votes. His numbers skyrocketed due to his stellar play and cool demeanor on the court earning six times the amount of votes he did last year with 3,571,695 total votes. He definitely let his play speak for itself.

Being overlooked is something that Morant is used to and he has been facing adversity like this since he was in high school. He was an unranked high school player looking to find a way to make a D-1 basketball program by any means necessary. How he was scouted and found is even an incredible story itself.

The Murray State assistant coach James Kane was at an AAU combine to scout another player when he stumbled upon Ja. Kane saw how talented he was and understood there was a lot of potential for him to play at Murray State. Sometimes you find a diamond in the rough and that is absolutely what they found in Morant.

In his two seasons with the Racers basketball program, Morant averaged 18.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game. The 2018-2019 season is where Ja really put himself on the map. Along with his teammates, Murray State earned a spot in the NCAA tournament that year as the twelfth seed.

Morant put up some historic numbers in the tournament and it was clear just how special this kid was going to be. In their first game against five-seed Marquette, Ja recorded the first triple-double in an NCAA tournament game since Draymond Green in 2012 for the Michigan State Spartans. Murray State pulled off the upset behind Ja’s 17 points, 16 assists, and 11 rebounds.

It was easy to see that Morant was ready for the NBA spotlight as he was clearly going to be a lottery pick in the draft. He was selected with the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft and the Grizzlies had found their franchise player for the future. All these obstacles and moments lead us to where we are today in February 2022.

The point guard is averaging 26.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in 41 games played this season. In the past few weeks, Morant set a new franchise record for the Grizzlies with seven straight games with 30+ points. Since 2000, only three players that were 22 or younger have had a streak of seven or more games with 30+ points. Those players include LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and none other than Ja Morant himself.

He is also the first player in Grizzlies history with a 30-point triple-double and is now second in career triple-doubles in franchise history behind Marc Gasol. Morant was not going to let himself be snubbed from the All-Star team yet again.

"“I deserve this. I earned this. I worked for this” he’s said. “This is the way I wanted it. I didn’t want to be no alternate. I don’t want to be a spot-filler.”"

Morant thinks very highly of himself and he should. He is one of the most talented players and point guards in this league even at the young age of 22. His potential is through the roof and Morant really has a chance to leave a big impact on the NBA.

This year’s 2022 All-Star game will be in Cleveland, Ohio. The Captains for this year are Kevin Durant for the Eastern Conference and LeBron James for the Western Conference. Starting for the East will be Kevin Durant (Nets), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Joel Embid (76ers), Trae Young (Hawks), and DeMar DeRozan (Bulls).

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The Western Conference starters are LeBron James (Lakers), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Andrew Wiggins (Warriors), Stephen Curry (Warriors), and finally Ja Morant (Grizzlies). The 71st NBA All-Star game will take place on Sunday, February 20 at 8:00 p.m.