There were no surprises in this year’s NBA Rookie of Year race. Memphis Grizzlies’ point guard Ja Morant won the award in a dominating fashion, collecting all-but-one first-place votes.
Morant, who averaged 17.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 7.3 assists in 2019/20 while almost leading the Grizzlies to playoffs appearance, collected 498 points out of 500 maximum. He was followed by Miami Heat’s Kendrick Nunn (204 points) and New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson (140). Williamson, who was the No.1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, got the only remaining first-place vote.
“I’m definitely honored. I put a lot of work in, day in and day out,” said Morant, who is the second player in franchise history to receive the NBA ROY award after Pau Gasol. “This journey has been rough but, you know, in the end, it’s all paying off. I still have a lot more work to do, but for guys, kids who are not heavily recruited right now, this gives them hope.”
Grizzlies drafted Ja Morant out of Murray State with the second overall pick, and the 21-year-old point guard immediately took over as the face of the franchise. Fueled by Morant’s electrifying play, Memphis held the No.8 in the West for the better part of the season and massively exceeding the expectations as a rebuilding franchise.
However, the Grizzlies didn’t manage to keep themselves in the postseason, as they were passed by Portland Trail Blazers on the standings and then eliminated in the play-in tournament for a playoff spot during the NBA restart in Orlando.