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“When you talk about Ja’s ceiling, his career is Jordan-esque” – Kendrick Perkins compares Ja Morant to early days of Michael Jordan

Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies handles the ball Dec. 27, 2021, in Phoenix, Arizona.
Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies handles the ball Dec. 27, 2021, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant is having a breakout season. The third-year guard has surpassed expectations and been an integral part of the Grizzlies' success thus far.

The Grizzlies (25-14) are fourth in the Western Conference and riding a seven-game winning streak. They've claimed wins over the Brooklyn Nets, LA Lakers and Phoenix Suns in recent weeks. In those games, Morant averaged 29.4 points per game, with a season best of 41 against the Lakers.

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ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins chose Giannis Antetokounmpo over Morant as the player he'd most like to have over the next 10 years. Even so, Perkins still had incredible respect for Memphis' marquee player. In fact, he compared the 22-year-old to a young Michael Jordan, who, of course, went on to a Hall of Fame career.

"When you talk about Ja’s ceiling, his career is Jordan-esque," Perkins said. "And I'm gonna tell you why. Because, think about it, when Michael Jordan came into the league in 1984, no one expected him to pan out the way that he did.
"And then when he came in with (Larry) Bird (No. 6 pick in 1978 but returned for one more season at Indiana State) and Isaiah Thomas (No. 2 pick in 1981) and Magic Johnson (No. 1 in 1979) and then all of a sudden, (Jordan) rose to the top as the No. 3 pick (in 1984). Ja Morant, the No. 2 pick (in 2019)."

Ja Morant a potential All-Star selection and possibly an MVP contender

Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies attempts a shot over Jalen Smith #10 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at Footprint Center on December 27, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies attempts a shot over Jalen Smith #10 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at Footprint Center on December 27, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Ja Morant is thriving for a small-market team, putting up performances to get himself considered in the MVP conversation. If the Memphis Grizzlies continue to stay among the West's elite top four, Morant could be a strong contender for the award.

.@JaMorant is poetry in motion 🔥(via ryanimparato/IG) https://t.co/czhyS6OFno

The 2020 Rookie of the Year is a shoo-in for his first All-Star Game and could make the All-NBA first team by the end of the season.

This was Kendrick Perkins' take on Ja Morant:

"Last year we were talking about Ja is really good," Perkins said. "This year we are talking about actually putting him in the MVP conversation. He should get an All-Star starter, he should make an All-NBA team if he doesn't get hurt. So when I look at it, I don't want people reacting like it's so far-fetched. The guy is only 22 years old, and he's going to continue to get better."

Perkins had effusive praise for the second overall pick in the 2019 draft on ESPN's "First Take." He is amazed at the young player's steady growth, competing at such a high level.

"Every year, he's getting better," Perkins said. "Every year, he's opening eyes. Every year, he's shocking the world. He's doing things and he's winning in a small market like Memphis and he's doing it at a high level."

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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