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Ja Morant had a perfect response to Charles Barkley's criticism of him for not getting his teammates involved more on offense

Ja Morant's recent change in playstyle may be able to be traced back to comments made by Charles Barkley
Ja Morant

Ja Morant

The Memphis Grizzlies have quietly emerged as the top team in the Western Conference, boasting a 19-9 record after throttling the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night. The Grizzlies started the season a bit slow, but as they have gradually gotten healthier, it's becoming clear that their leap in the standings last season was no fluke and that they mean business this season.

Ja continues to improve his game for the Grizzlies

Of course, at the center of everything good for the Grizzlies is Ja Morant. The electric point guard is one of the best pure scorers in the game, and he only continues to improve every time he takes the court. With Morant playing at an incredibly high level right now (27.6 PPG, 7.9 APG, 6.7 RPG, 45.7 FG%, 34.7 3P%), it's not hard to see why Memphis has skyrocketed up the standings in what is looking to be a wide-open Western Conference.

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Morant was once again at his best in the Grizzlies' 142-101 demolition of the Bucks, as he posted a 25-point, 10 rebounds, 10 assist triple-double that guided Memphis to the win. Those statlines have become increasingly regular, as Morant seems more interested in getting his teammates involved rather than scoring 40 points a night. In fact, it loops back to a recent comment by Charles Barkley regarding the steps Morant needed to take to evolve as a player.

"The next evolution for Ja is that he's gotta learn how to make the players around him better. When you're a great player, you can get your shot anytime you want to. I don't think he's added that to his game yet. Sometimes when you make a play, you gotta be thinking, 'I can go around this guy but I need to get this guy going.'" - Charles Barkley, Inside The NBA

After the game, Morant seemed to allude to Barkley's comments when responding to a tweet from Kendrick Perkins. Perkins was praising Morant for his strong outing against the Bucks, but Morant simply responded by saying that he is just trying to make every one of his teammates better, making it hard to argue against the fact that he took Barkley's comments to heart.

As Morant continues to improve, the Grizzlies' ceiling continues to rise

Barkley's comment on Morant was made about a month ago, and the contrast in Morant's play since then has been notable. Morant is still taking about 20 shots per game, but his assist numbers have increased drastically, as he is now averaging 9.4 assists per game over that ten-game stretch. This has led Morant to post seven double-doubles and three triple-doubles in the ten games since Barkley's comments after having just two double-doubles in the first 13 games of the season.

It's hard to argue with the results, as Memphis is 10-3 (Morant has sat out three of these games) since this change in Morant's play, which includes a seven-game win streak they find themselves on as well. Athletes try to avoid paying attention to the media for the most part, but sometimes, a guy like Barkley has some comments that these players need to hear. And it looks like Morant has taken the steps Barkley mentioned to improve his game, which is great news for a scorching-hot Grizzlies squad.

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