With LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant playing in the twilight phase of their careers, it’s only right that people now have their eyes on the rising superstars that are expected to take over the league. And right now, no player is as exciting to watch as Ja Morant - a walking highlight real every time he’s on the hardwood.
Morant, who continues to improve every season, is slowly climbing the MVP conversation ladder as his Memphis Grizzlies has become a force to reckon with in the Western Conference. The best part is that the current state of the Grizzlies organization seems sustainable and likely will be competitive for the next few years. That’s why ESPN senior analyst Stephen A. Smith has declared that Ja is the future face of the NBA.
What makes a superstar the face of the league
According to Stephen A. — who claimed that he is the face of the ESPN network and so he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to who the face of the NBA is — Morant is certainly the number one candidate to take over just because of how much he embraces his stature. Sure, there are a couple of notable young studs to watch out for, but for Smith, Morant is different in the sense that his game is just on par with his ability to live up to his fame.
“I think Ja Morant can become that guy. I think it’s still Steph, it’s still LeBron, it’s still KD. But definitely Ja Morant is a future face of the league. You respect mad respect and love for other guys like Trae Young and stuff like that, but Ja Morant can be that dude and Luka can’t be ignored because he’s an international star because he’s not American. He’s an international star and he’s beloved and I think that goes a long way,” Smith said.
“Here’s what I look at. Your performance is one thing. Your willingness to embrace your stature and accept the accountability and responsibility that comes along with it is another matter.”
Is it too early to declare who the next face of the league is?
If you think about it — James, Curry, and Durant didn’t solidify their legacies or receive all the hype they have now until they started winning championships. This isn’t to discredit Morant per se but Stephen A’s take about Ja perhaps being the face of the league is quite bold. At the very least, Morant has a lot of competition for that title, specifically Jayson Tatum, Doncic, Zion Williamson, and how can we dare to omit Giannis Antetokounmpo (who’s only 28 years old) from the list?
Regardless, there’s still a lot of time and basketball to be played until the next face of the league takes over. Only time will tell if Smith’s bold prediction — that Morant will take over the league one day — will come to fruition or not.