Ja Morant has the best start of his career this season, but he came under threat on Friday when he suffered a first-degree ankle sprain at the end of the Memphis Grizzlies’ 121-110 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team announced that Morant would be out for at least a week and would be reviewed weekly.
As Steven Adams and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl struggled for rebounds, Morant seemed to be tangled up with Lugenz Dort. Morant quickly collapsed to the floor in severe pain, and the team’s instructors helped him to his feet. He did not return to the game.
Morant is gearing up for the MVP this season. On Friday, he averaged over 29 points per game to help keep the Grizzlies afloat as they dealt with injuries to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bain. He ended Friday’s game with a double-double with 19 points and 11 assists against the Thunder, but now Memphis needs to brace for Morant’s absence. That will be a problem because Desmond Bain, who was the top player in Memphis in past periods of Morant’s absence, has already been out for a few more weeks with a sprained toe.
Longevity is the only major issue for Morant’s ascent to megastardom. He only played 57 games last season due to a slew of injuries, and his incredibly aggressive playing style combined with his rare athleticism make him something of an injury risk.
The Grizzlies retained Tyus Jones as a substitute point guard this offseason, and moments like these likely played a major role in that decision. They were 20-5 ahead without Morant last season, and now that he’s out of games again, Jones will be central to their effort to try again.