Friday, January 27 2023

Ja Morant is off to the best start of his career this season, but that was jeopardized Friday as he suffered a potentially scary injury. The moment came with just over three minutes remaining in what turned out to be a 121-110 victory for the Memphis Grizzlies over the Oklahoma City Thunder. As Steven Adams and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl fought for a rebound, Morant appeared to get his feet tangled with Luguentz Dort. Morant quickly crumpled to the floor with an apparent ankle injury, and he had to be helped onto his feet by the team’s training staff. He did not return to the game.

Morant is off to an MVP-caliber start this season. He entered Friday averaging over 29 points per game to help keep the Grizzlies afloat as they’ve dealt with injuries to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane. He finished Friday’s game with a 19-point, 11-assist double-double against the Thunder, but now Memphis needs to prepare for Morant’s absence. That’s going to be an issue because Desmond Bane, who has functioned as Memphis’ best ball-handler in Morant’s past absences, is set to miss a few weeks with a toe sprain.

Durability is the only major concern for Morant’s rise to megastardom. He played only 57 games last season due to a variety of injuries, and the incredibly aggressive way that he plays combined with his rare athleticism make him something of an injury risk.

The Grizzlies retained Tyus Jones as their backup point guard this offseason, and moments like this likely played a major role in that decision. They went 20-5 without Morant last season, and if he’s out for any meaningful period now, Jones will be central to their efforts to repeat that effort.



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