MEMPHIS’ JA MORANT WINS 2019-20 KIA NBA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD
The NBA has announced that Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant has been named the 2019-20 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year. The 6-3 guard is the second player to win the Rookie of the Year Award with the Grizzlies, joining Pau Gasol (2001-02).
Morant received 99 first-place votes from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters and earned 498 total points. Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn finished in second place with 204 points. New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson received one first-place vote and finished in third place with 140 points.
Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote. The voting was conducted based on regular-season games played through March 11. The seeding games, which were played July 30 – Aug. 14 as part of the season restart, did not count toward voting for the Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award or the league’s other traditional end-of-season awards.
From the beginning of the season through March 11, Morant led all qualified NBA rookies in scoring (17.6 ppg) and assists (6.9 apg) and shot 49.1 percent from the field in 59 games. During that period, Morant was one of three NBA players to average at least 17.0 points and 6.0 assists and shoot 49.0 percent or better from the field, joining 2020 NBA All-Stars LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets.
In games played through March 11, Morant recorded a rookie-high 11 double-doubles and produced the only triple-double by a rookie when he finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against the Washington Wizards on Feb. 9. He had at least 20 points and 10 assists in seven games, including a 27-point, 14-assist performance against the Lakers on Feb. 29.
Morant excelled late in games, ranking sixth in the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring average (7.3 ppg) in games played through March 11. Of the top six players in that category, Morant had the highest fourth-quarter field goal percentage (55.9).
Honored as the Kia NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month in October/November, December and January, Morant joined Gasol as the only rookies in Grizzlies history to earn monthly accolades three or more times. Morant, the No. 2 overall pick in NBA Draft 2019 presented by State Farm, also broke the franchise rookie record for total assists in a season, reaching the milestone in his 48th game.
With Morant leading the team in points and assists, the Grizzlies posted a 32-33 record in games played through March 11 and began the season restart in eighth place in the Western Conference. In last season’s 82-game schedule, Memphis went 33-49 and finished tied for 12th place in the conference.
Morant, who turned 21 in August, receives the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy as the Kia NBA Rookie of the Year. Gottlieb, one of the NBA’s founders and a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, coached the Philadelphia Warriors to the 1946-47 championship in the league’s first season.