Memphis Grizzlies

Paul George compares Ja Morant to a young Derrick Rose — and it's hard to disagree

Grizzlies star Ja Morant has earned a lot of attention early on in the 2021-22 season, and rightfully so.

The 22-year-old has taken a monster leap from Year 2 to Year 3, looking like a player who is aiming higher than just a Most Improved Player of the Year award or the first All-Star bid of his career.

He is, of course, arguably the frontrunner for Most Improved and is well on his way to an All-Star nod, but Morant's name was a part of even bigger conversations through the first couple weeks of the season. It was a small sample size, but Morant started to carve a realistic path to an MVP trophy. And although that momentum has decelerated as we get further into the season - primarily because the Grizzlies might not win enough games for him to truly be considered - Morant has still earned that level of respect from his peers.

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After the last time Morant faced off against the Clippers, a game in which he had 28 points and eight assists in a win, All-Star forward Paul George couldn't help but compare the No. 2 overall pick to a former MVP in Derrick Rose.

"He's just explosive, electrifying," George said of Morant. "I'd compare him to like, D-Rose. I guarded him my rookie year, Indy-Chicago, and guarding Ja is very similar to how D-Rose was.

"It was just how quick and his ability to change direction, move his body in-air," George continued. "He made it tough for us. He put a lot of pressure on us. He's explosive. You know the direction he wants to go. He wants to go left, we knew that, but he's just so good and so fast, he still gets to it."

It's hard to argue with the comparison and when you actually line them up side-by-side, it gets even scarier.

When Rose became the youngest MVP in league history back in 2010-11, it was his age 22 season and third year in the league. Morant entered this season at 22 years old, marking his third in the league.

Their numbers during their third season are almost identical, too.

Comparing Ja Morant's 2021-22 season to Derrick Rose's MVP season
Year GP PPG APG RPG SPG FG% 3P% FT%
Derrick Rose 2010-11 81 25.0 7.7 4.1 1.0 44.5 33.2 85.8
Ja Morant 2020-21 14 25.9 7.3 5.1 1.6 49.3 38.2 77.5

Morant has only played 14 games and would obviously have to keep up this production over the course of an entire season the way Rose did, but still, he's on quite the trajectory.

As George did, you could use these same adjectives to describe both players: explosive, electrifying, shifty and athletic. They both even have that same killer instinct, never shying away from a big moment.

I mean, who is the first player that comes to mind when you see dunks like this:

What about drives like this, where he's changing direction, changing speed, floating in the air and still finding a way to finish amongst the trees:

You'll see a whole lot of those same moves in any season-long highlight tape from Rose back in 2010-11.

Even if Morant can't match Rose as a 22-year-old MVP, it's looking like the star guard will see his name in those types of discussions for many years to come with the potential to win the league's most prestigious individual award at some point down the line.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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