Coronavirus: Grizzlies’ Ja Morant is coping with social distancing by wearing his full NBA uniform at home

The coronavirus pandemic brought the NBA season to a screeching halt last week, and with three players – the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell as well as the Detroit Pistons’ Christian Wood – now infected, it won’t resume any time soon. Memphis Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant is already reminiscing.

Dressed in his game uniform, Morant filmed himself walking out to a faux lineup introduction in a TikTok video. He even dapped the air in place of his teammates’ hands.

Morant has good reason to miss the game. Prior to the league’s stoppage, the 20-year-old turned the Grizzlies into a surprising Western Conference playoff contender, as they’re 32-33 with a 3.5 game lead for the No. 8 seed. Morant, who leads all NBA rookies in points (17.6) and assists (6.9) per game, was the runaway favorite for Rookie of the Year.

This year’s No. 2 overall pick out of Murray State, Morant headlines a talented young core in Memphis. That core includes fellow 2019 draftee Brandon Clarke, 23, who’s behind only the New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson in player efficiency rating among rookies; and Jaren Jackson Jr., the 20-year-old big capable of dominating the paint (1.6 blocks per game) defensively and the perimeter (39.7 percent 3-point shooting) offensively.

If the season resumed as currently constructed the Grizzlies, which were 4-6 over their last 10, would have 17 games left to maintain the No. 8 seed. Three teams would be 3.5 games behind, including a surging Sacramento Kings squad that won seven of its last 10 games.

The NBA season and the Western Conference playoff race may not resume until mid-June at the earliest, if at all. But if it does, Morant’s pregame handshake routine clearly won’t show any rust. 

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