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Ja Morant has won the 2021-22 Most Improved Player award, the NBA announced. Morant received 38 first-place votes and 221 total points to beat out fellow finalists Darius Garland of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dejounte Murray of the San Antonio Spurs for the honor. He is the first Grizzlies player ever to win this award, and he is also the first player ever to win both Rookie of the Year and Most Improved Player in a single career.

Many viewed Morant's status as a former Rookie of the Year winner and inevitable ascension into stardom as a reason to vote against him, but statistically, Morant's jump was meaningful. Morant increased his scoring by 8.3 points per game, his field goal percentage by 4.4 points and his 3-point percentage by 4.1 points. Morant went from not making the All-Star team a season ago to setting himself up for All-NBA honors this season.

His improvement helped power his team's improvement. The Grizzlies were a play-in squad a season ago at 38-34. This season, they went 56-26 thanks in large part to Morant's excellence. The Grizzlies wound up earning the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs with their Most Improved Player leading the way, and now seek to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. 

With Rookie of the Year and Most Improved Player in the bag, the next individual award Morant should contend for would be Most Valuable Player. Michael Jordan, David Robinson and Giannis Antetokounmpo are currently the only players to win three major awards. Jordan and Robinson won MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, Antetokounmpo shares the first two with Jordan and Robinson, but has a Most Improved Player award in place of Defensive Player of the Year.

While Morant was the one who ultimately took home the crown as Most Improved Player, the Grizzlies All-Star felt that his teammate, Desmond Bane, deserved the honor and left the trophy at Bane's house with the following message.

For now, Morant's attention is on the Minnesota Timberwolves, whom he and his team are tied with 2-2 in the first round of the playoffs. His Grizzlies have a chance to make a deep playoff run this season and perhaps even contend for a Finals berth. A championship would mean more than any individual honor, and as nice as this trophy will look on his mantle, that's what he's playing for this postseason.