Florida: Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant earned 99 of 100 first-place votes Thursday to take home NBA Rookie of the Year honors.
The 21-year-old Morant, a Murray State product who was the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, averaged 17.8 points, 7.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 67 games. He shot 47.7 percent from the field and 33.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Morant received 498 points in the voting, well ahead of second-place finisher Kendrick Nunn of the Miami Heat, who had 204 points. New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson finished third with 140 points and got the only other first-place vote.
During the regular season, Morant tallied 15 double-doubles and two triple-doubles. He did not take long to make his mark on the league, scoring a season-high 30 points on Oct. 27 against the Brooklyn Nets.
Morant has credited his father, Tee, with instilling a strong work ethic in him. The elder Morant used to put his son through difficult drills in their backyard to prepare for action on the court.
“It’s been tough,” Morant told reporters after Memphis drafted him. “At a young age, jumping those tires wasn’t fun. I used to be kind of mad. But honestly, it all paid off. My dad had the opportunity to play professionally and turned it down to stay and raise me.”
Pau Gasol was the last player to win Rookie of the Year honors for the Grizzlies. Gasol earned the honor in the 2001-02 season.