Grizzlies' Ja Morant on Possible All-Star Selection: 'I Deserve This. I Earned This.'

Erin WalshJanuary 24, 2022

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 21: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts during a game against the Denver Nuggets on January 21, 2022 at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Ja Morant is inching closer to being a first-time All-Star, and the Memphis Grizzlies guard is ready for the opportunity to shine alongside some of the NBA's biggest stars. 

“I deserve this. I earned this. I worked for this,” Morant told Drew Hill of the Daily Memphian. “This is the way I wanted it. I didn’t want to be no alternate. I don’t want to be a spot-filler.”

In the latest All-Star voting returns, which were released Thursday, Morant ranked second among Western Conference guards with 2,623,359 votes. 

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry leads all Western Conference guards with more than six million votes, and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic is right on Morant's tail. 

In addition to Morant, Curry and Doncic, Klay Thompson, Devin Booker, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Donovan Mitchell, Damian Lillard and Anthony Edwards are among the guards with the most votes in the Western Conference. 

NBA Communications @NBAPR

LeBron James now leads the NBA in the latest fan returns for NBA All-Star Voting presented by Tissot, which concludes this Saturday, Jan. 22.<br><br>Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan and James continue to be the top vote-getters at their respective position groups. <a href="https://t.co/LBIU5BamC6">pic.twitter.com/LBIU5BamC6</a>

Morant has improved in each of his three seasons in the NBA. And while he proved his worth during the 2020-21 campaign, he's certainly taken his game up a level this year. 

The 2019 second overall pick is in the midst of his best season in the league. He is averaging 25.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game while shooting 48.7 percent from the floor and 35.0 percent from deep. 

Morant is also in the MVP conversation as the Grizzlies are third in the Western Conference with a 32-17 record. Even Golden State Warriors veteran Draymond Green believes the Murray State product deserves to be in that conversation. 

Green said during his podcast:

"Hell no, Ja is not going to get Most Improved. Miles Bridges should get Most Improved.
"The reason I don’t think Ja should get Most Improved is because Ja this year didn’t just become Ja. We knew last year Ja was serious. We knew he was gonna be a force to be reckoned with. Now, has he improved? Absolutely. You can tell he lives in the gym and works on his game—he’s 100 percent improved. What I love most is those guys on that team follow him. They follow his demeanor. He leads that team and that organization, and that’s what I appreciate most about Ja Morant.
"But when I say ‘hell no’ about the MIP conversation—Ja, in my opinion, Ja has already passed that. Let’s talk about the MVP conversation. That’s the category that I personally feel like Ja Morant needs to be mentioned more in. He is playing at an MVP-level, All-Star starter, all of those things, he is at that level."

The Grizzlies barely floated above the .500 mark last season and were eliminated from the playoffs in five games by the Utah Jazz. With how Morant and Co. are playing right now, the team could go deeper in the playoffs this season in a wide-open Western Conference.