Despite the success of his 28-13 Grizzlies, on an individual level, Ja Morant remains a tick below league-average effective field goal percenta—oh, wait you’re all here for the dunk. Please put away your knives; stop playing that music. I present to you now Ja Morant’s dunk on Jakob Poeltl from Wednesday night’s win over the Spurs.
In slow-mo, you can see Morant take off on two feet and rise, as if in an elevator gently arriving at its destination: the humiliation of the Spurs’ solid rim protector, doing his very best. You can also see that Morant technically throws the ball in, though at this point in basketball’s evolution I am willing to accept a definition of dunk that encompasses all balls thrown into the hoop at a downward trajectory with sufficient venom. “When did you know you were going to take flight on this play?” he was asked after the game. “As soon as I attacked his top foot, and I seen him open up, and no help came, I already knew what I was going to do. Obviously I guess he ain’t get the memo last time,” Morant replied.
Last time was Feb. 22, 2022, also in Memphis, when the point guard took off from even further away and got his dunk hand unambiguously on the rim. In last night’s presser, Morant said that he prefers last year’s vintage—the apex of a career-high 52-point game—to this year’s.
May the annual Morant-Poeltl dinner-date continue in 2024. Though it should be noted that this time around, Poeltl, who finished with five blocks, seemed to turn and bail out midway through the dunk. It’s possible that he will skip the contest altogether next year. But you have to jump, Jakob. You must do your part.
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