LeBron James says Ja Morant shouldn’t have won Most Improved Player, blames voting ‘dweebs’
Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant made his first All-Star game this season. He’ll make his first All-NBA team this season. He might even get his first MVP votes this season.
Morant’s personal growth – which culminated in winning Most Improved Player this year – has been recognized with so many new achievements.
Wrongly, according to LeBron James.
Like a said JA too special to be in a MIP conversation. Rising Super⭐️— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 4, 2022
JA so damn tough!!!! There's no way Ja should even have been in MIP talks. This guy is a flat out ⭐️ and always have been!! Real basketball 🧠s know. Not the majority of dweebs who don't even watch basketball on those voting ballots.— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 4, 2022
If Morant has always been a star, why didn’t LeBron speak up when Morant wasn’t named an All-Star last year? Morant finished just ninth among Western Conference guards in All-Star starter voting (behind, among others: De’Aaron Fox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander). Western Conference coaches didn’t select Morant as a reserve, either. It’s not as if LeBron wasn’t paying attention. He vehemently objected to Devin Booker getting snubbed.
Though he casts himself as the smartest guy in the room on this, LeBron doesn’t even hold an outlier opinion. The “majority of dweebs who don’t even watch basketball on those voting ballots” – 62 of 100 – thought Morant didn’t deserve Most Improve Player. He won the award with a mere plurality of first-place votes (38). He barely cracked half the three-player ballots (51) – fewer than Dejounte Murray (63) and Darius Garland (62) and barely more than Jordan Poole (47).
The media nearly unanimously voted Morant Rookie of the Year just two years ago. It’s not as if only some LeBron-anointed set of “real basketball heads” recognized Morant’s potential. Morant clearly had all the tools.
But he still had to put them together. He deserves credit for doing so. That took work. Most Improved Player should be about improving, not surprising (though Morant ascended more quickly than even his many admirers expected).
For what it’s worth, this dweeb picked Morant as Most Improved Player.
While playing only a half a minute more per game, Morant increased his scoring average from 19 to 27. Even while significantly increasing his volume, he shot more efficiently on 2-pointers (50% to 53%), 3-pointers (30% to 34%) and free throws (73% to 76%). Beyond stats, Morant aced the eye test – clearly mastering the game at a level he hadn’t shown before.
Morant went from someone on the very fringes of the All-Star conversation to arguably the NBA’s best point guard. That’s a massive and important leap.
It’s a credit to Morant that his improvement was so swift, people have forgotten he wasn’t always this good. He hit the ground running as a star the moment this season began and has continued flourishing in the playoffs.
But it really wasn’t always this way.