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A trophy for Morant… who gives it to Bane

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Memphis point guard Ja Morant (21) was voted the most improved player of the season in the NBA, ahead of Dejounte Murray (San Antonio) and Darius Garland (Cleveland). But he gave the trophy to teammate Desmond Bane.

The play-off days pass and the NBA continues to deliver its regular season awards. After Marcus Smart (Boston) voted best defender and Scottie Barnes (Toronto) voted best rookie, this time it is a player from the Western Conference who is rewarded. Memphis point guard Ja Morant was voted the most improved player this season. The 22-year-old received 221 points from the panel of 100 journalists, 38 of which put him in first place, and he edged 25-year-old San Antonio point guard Dejounte Murray (183 points, 20 first places ) and 22-year-old Cleveland point guard Darius Garland (178 points, 11 first-place finishes).

This season, Ja Morant’s statistics have improved enormously, going from 19.1 points, 4 rebounds and 7.4 assists, to 27.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists in average, although he played fourteen games less, due to various injuries in December and March-April. Drafted in 2019 in second position behind Zion Williamson and voted rookie of the year in 2020, the native of South Carolina has delighted the public this season with his gestures that are as spectacular as they are effective, and have greatly contributed to the second place of Memphis, with 56 wins for 26 losses. Ja Morant succeeds New York power forward Julius Randle, and is the first Grizzlies player to receive the trophy, first awarded in 1986.

Morant gives his trophy to Bane

But after receiving the trophy during training, Ja Morant decided to take it to teammate Desmond Bane, believing he deserved it more. The 23-year-old fullback (or winger), drafted in 2020 in 30th position, came in fifth in the 2022 best progression ranking. He went, between his rookie season and his sophomore season, from 9.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists to 18.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists on average. A nice progression, indeed. It remains to award the titles of best coach, best sixth man, and of course MVP. Titles that will be announced throughout these 2022 play-offs.



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