After his teams 126-122 play-in game loss to the Trail Blazers, Ja Morant revealed that he had played the last 4 games with a fractured thumb. Despite this, Morant still gave his team a chance at the playoffs, without their 2nd best player, wth 4 solid performances. Against the Blazers, he went head to head with Damian Lillard and dropped 35, keeping Memphis close all the way to the end of the game.
During this same span, Morant also dropped a triple double on Milwaukee to keep his teams season alive. The Grizzlies, without Jaren Jackson Jr. have been extremely reliant on their rookie point guard, and he has still delivered. With all the pressure solely on him, and with the team still not at an elite level talent wise yet, Morant has kept them competitive all year, and in these past 4 games has battled through injury to carry them to a near playoff run.
Although Memphis came into the restart as the 8th seed, it was always going to be an uphill battle for them. Without Jackson, and already inexperienced roster that lacked depth took an ever bigger hit. Portland, Phoenix and San Antonio have also all been hot since the restart, and Memphis had been struggling since early in the calendar year. Ja still showed out despite the teams 2-6 record in Orlando, and nobody can question his toughness or leadership ability after this run.
Going into next season, the West is not getting any easier. Young teams like Denver, Dallas and New Orleans will improved. Teams like the Lakers, Clippers and Rockets are not losing anyone, and it is safe to expect a better year out of teams like Portland and Phoenix. However, do not count out Memphis, who always have a chance when Morant is on the floor.