The Memphis Grizzlies Should Trade Ja Morant


I don't even want to write about the off-the-court issues with Ja Morant; I promise it does not factor into why I say the Grizzlies should trade him. My reasoning is entirely basketball based, mainly the fact that the team is better without him.

Anytime a team's winning percentage without their best player (61% in 49 games) is better than their record with him (56%), you have to question the kind of impact he is having on the team. Take last season, the Grizzlies' best regular season record ever- the team was 20 and 5 without him for an impressive 80% win rate, compared to 36 and 21 with him for 63%.

The numbers behind that discrepancy revealed a team that performed better defensively and shared the wealth more evenly offensively.

Last season, the Grizzlies had a 112.3 defensive rating with Ja Morant, good for 20th in the NBA, while their defensive rating of 104 without him would have led the league. Their shooting percentage, assists per game, and three-point shooting percentage also all improved in that period. It all cumulated in last season's playoff series, where we saw the Grizzlies get blown out by 30 by the Warriors, then four days later, beat that same Warriors team by 39 points without Morant. They played more team-oriented basketball leading to the Ja Morant conundrum.

Sure, the Grizzlies are still one of the best teams in the NBA with him, and he is the most electrifying star basketball has, but if the focus is winning championships, then the Grizzlies should be bold in flipping Ja Morant for a more team-oriented star.

Someone like Dejounte Murray would have been perfect, but he's off the table now. But a two-way guard like Tyrese Haliburton would be ideal. I don't love a De'Aaron Fox deal as much, but the Kings might offer a package worth exploring.

I don't have a specific trade the Grizzlies should make, but if the data says you are a better team without your best player, then you should at least entertain the idea of trading him for another star who can help improve your cause.

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