The reasons behind Ja Morant's scorching start to the 2021-22 NBA season

Morant assesses his play through early stretch of season (2:02)

Ja Morant talks with Malika Andrews about his hot start to the season and bouncing back after missing the potential game-tying free throw against the Lakers. (2:02)

Is Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant making the leap?

Two years after winning Rookie of the Year, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft leads the league with 35.0 points per game through his first three games of the 2021-22 season. He has already scored at least 37 points in a game as many times (two) as in his first two NBA campaigns combined.

Morant's Grizzlies, expected to be back in the play-in tournament mix after a future-focused offseason by way of trades and draft picks, won their first two games before a three-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the second game of a back-to-back over the weekend at Staples Center.

Since Morant exploded on the scene as a 20-year-old rookie who succeeded at a position where most newcomers struggle, stardom has looked more like a question of when rather than if.

How has Morant ascended to this level already, and is it sustainable? And what does Morant's performance tell us about his potential going forward? Let's break down his hot start ahead of the Grizzlies' showdown Wednesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers (10 p.m. ET, ESPN).

The reasons behind Morant's scoring spree

Morant's impressive early showing stands in stark contrast to last season, when the Grizzlies were the NBA's only team without a 20-PPG scorer on their roster. (The Orlando Magic didn't finish with one after trading away leading scorer Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline.) At 19.1 PPG, Morant was one of three Memphis players to average between 17 and 20 points, tied for the most on any team.