Ja Morant

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Welcome to the Morning Shootaround, where every weekday you’ll get a fresh, topical column from one of SI.com’s NBA writers: Howard Beck on Mondays, Chris Mannix on Tuesdays, Michael Pina on Wednesdays, Chris Herring on Thursdays and Rohan Nadkarni on Fridays.

About 6 minutes into Promiseland, a new film documenting the rise of Grizzlies star Ja Morant, the camera takes us into his childhood bedroom, its walls decked with NBA iconography. It stops briefly on the space over his door frame, where a quote from LeBron James has been painted: “You can’t be afraid to fail. It’s the only way you succeed.”

It’s as good a place as any to start, and it pretty well captures the audacity, ambition and competitive drive of the Grizzlies’ dazzling 21-year-old guard. From the moment Morant arrived in the NBA, as the No. 2 pick of the 2019 draft, through a pandemic-altered rookie year, through a lockdown and a restart, through six weeks in the NBA “bubble” and a surprising playoff push that fell just short, fearlessness has been his primary calling card.

You see it every time the 6′ 3″ Morant flies to the rim, challenging the game’s giants, and every time he takes on—and frequently outshines—the game’s most decorated stars. That fearlessness propelled him to Rookie of the Year honors last year, and has the Grizzlies once again pushing to make the postseason, despite their collective youth.





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