Grizzlies' Ja Morant wins Rookie of the Year over Zion Williamson, Kendrick Nunn

Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant was named the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year on Thursday.

Morant, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Murray State, collected 99 out of a possible 100 first-place votes to capture the award in a landslide. The 21-year-old finished with 498 points and was well ahead of Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn (204 points) and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (140 points).


Williamson, the top pick in last year's draft out of Duke, had the one remaining first-place vote. Grizzlies big man Brandon Clarke (fourth), Chicago Bulls guard Coby White (fifth), Golden State Warriors forward Eric Paschall (sixth), Toronto Raptors guard Terence Davis II (seventh) and New York Knicks forward R.J. Barrett (eighth) also received votes.

"Man, it's a blessing," Morant said on TNT's Inside the NBA pre-game show prior to Thursday's matchup between the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors. "I'm definitely honored. I put a lot of work in, day in and day out. This journey has been rough but, you know, in the end it's all paying off.


"I still have a lot more work to do, but for guys who are not heavily recruited right now, this gives them hope."

Morant led all qualifying rookies in points (17.6) and assists (6.9) per game this season and shot 49% from the field. He is the second player in Grizzlies history to win the league's ROTY award, joining Pau Gasol in 2002.

The NBA isn't having a year-end awards show this season -- as it has in recent years -- due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the league is handing out awards periodically throughout the playoffs.

To this point, the NBA has named Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse its Coach of the Year, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo its Defensive Player of the Year and New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram its Most Improved Player.

The remaining two awards to be handed out are Sixth Man of the Year and Most Valuable Player.


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