The Memphis Grizzlies-Golden State Warriors series has all the qualities to become a classic. It pits the rising powerhouse against a team full of future Hall of Famers. Two games into the series, with each team at one game apiece, a former NBA player had seen enough to claim Steph Curry is no longer the Warriors' best player at the moment.
Ja Morant is the best player in this series
Ja Morant grabs the chance whenever it presents itself and embraces the pressure that comes with it. In only his third year in the NBA, Morant has already increased his point production from 17.8 in his rookie year to 19.1 last year to 27.4 this season, prompting fellow players and experts to include his name in the MVP discussions.
Ja is leading young, hungry, and talented players in Memphis that are poised for continued playoff success in the following years. They were able to create an identity for themselves away from the Grit & Grind era of Zach Randolph, Pau Gasol, and Mike Conley. Memphis is good, but no one imagined them to be this good this soon, with their star guard leading the attack and the supporting cast providing enough cover in terms of offense and defense.
Game 1 went down the wire, and had Morant made the last-minute lay-up, it would have been 2-0 in favor of the Grizzlies. Game 2 proved that the Grizzlies are for real and ready to give these Warriors a run for their money. On the other hand, Golden State is led by its usual suspects: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. But according to Antoine Walker, Curry is not the best player on his team right now.
“Ja Morant, he’s the best player in the series... I think Steph is the 3rd best player in the series, when you talk about the best... I think it goes Ja Morant, Jordan Poole & then Steph Curry. Jordan Poole is the best player on the Warriors right now.”
Antonie Walker, First Things First
Jordan Poole is taking over
Steph has not been his usual deadly self, but he still impacts the game in other ways. Jordan Poole’s performance as of late is getting the attention of experts and fans because no one expected him to be this good. Instead, he leveled up his game to the point that he’s now outscoring Steph and Klay in some games. But make no mistake, Curry is just a sleeping volcano waiting to erupt.
Steve Kerr has the luxury to rotate his players now that Poole has increased his production on the floor. Stephen Curry scored 27 and 24 in Games 1 and 2, respectively but shot 27.35% on his 3s in Game 1. He had a negative impact on the floor in both games, minus 9 in Game 1 and minus 11 in Game 2.
The Grizzlies must take advantage of Curry’s average performances. Poole may be catching everyone's eye right now, but the focus should still be on containing Steph.