Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Jones, LaRavia

Grizzlies star point guard Ja Morant is listed as doubtful to play on Saturday vs. Utah due to a non-COVID illness, the team announced (via Twitter). Morant was added to the injury report on Friday night and his status remains unchanged in the latest update.

An illness may be just about the only thing capable of slowing down Morant at this point. The All-NBA guard is off to a terrific start this season, averaging 32.6 points, 6.8 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game in his first five contests (32.8 MPG), with an outrageous shooting line of .529/.565/.875. If the 4-1 Grizzlies and Morant stay hot, the 23-year-old could emerge as a legitimate MVP candidate this season.

Here’s more out of Memphis:

  • After re-signing with the Grizzlies this summer on a two-year, $29MM deal, Tyus Jones is playing a slightly bigger role and is facing a tougher challenge, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Jones, who is averaging a career-high 23.8 minutes per game so far, is one of the few holdovers in a second unit that lost De’Anthony Melton and Kyle Anderson and is currently without injured wing Ziaire Williams.
  • Those departures and injury absences have Jones looking for his own shot more and unable to maintain his usual league-leading assist-to-turnover ratio so far this season. Still, he’s not too worried about an up-and-down start, and remains focused on helping his teammates – including multiple rookies – get comfortable. “As far as our unit goes, (I’m) just talking to them before practice, during practice trying to help them on that learning curve as I can,” Jones said, per Cole. “That’s part of my job as a leader on this team.”
  • Injuries to Williams and Jaren Jackson Jr. have helped open up a regular rotation role for rookie forward Jake LaRavia, and the former Wake Forest standout showed on Thursday what he’s capable of providing the club, Cole notes in a separate Commercial Appeal story. LaRavia had 13 points and nine rebounds while making 3-of-4 three-pointers in Memphis’ win over Sacramento. “They drafted me here because I’m a shooter, play defense, too, and that’s what I’m going to do,” LaRavia said.
  • In case you missed it, the Grizzlies ranked 29th out of 30 NBA teams when Forbes released its annual franchise valuations. Forbes estimates the team to be worth $1.65 billion.
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