The 2021 NBA Playoffs has seen plenty of fresh faces usher in a new era, with the league witnessing the next generation of stars put their mark on the biggest stage.
Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant was one of the stories of the first round, with his electric, record-breaking play making the Grizzlies must-see TV in their battle against the Utah Jazz, stealing Game 1 on the road, before the regular season's No.1 team bounced back to win in five.
"It was a good feeling, it was one of me and my teammates' goals this year to make the playoffs, being able to achieve that goal was good but we definitely weren't satisfied," Morant told NBA.com.
"Obviously playing a good Utah team, [we] came up short and not the outcome we wanted but I feel like it made us hungry."
In just his second season, Morant led the Grizzlies back to the postseason, for the first time since 2016-17, by defeating the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors in the Play-In Tournament.
Once he arrived on the big stage, the 21-year-old put together a string of supercharged performances that defied his age, highlighted by a 47-point explosion in Game 2 - the most playoff points scored by a player 21 or younger, breaking LeBron James' record (45 points on 2006).
He also became the fourth player in NBA history to score 100+ points across his first three playoff games, joining the likes of Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and George Mikan. Not a bad start to your playoff career.
While the Grizzlies are disappointed with their first-round exit, the experience has left them wanting for more, especially considering the fight they showed against the 52-win Jazz.
Alongside a talented young core of Dillon Brooks (25 years old) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (21), the Grizzlies have a young Big 3 brimming with potential.
"Its been great man, I feel like our future is very bright here," Morant added.
"Obviously we want now, we all work together, we all hungry and we're trying to show everybody else how special we are.
"As far as Jaren and Dillon, [they're] both special talents, both guys who push me to be better every day and I do the same for them."
While Morant grabbed the headlines in the postseason, Canadian Dillon Brooks was right there with him, elevating his game on the playoff stage.
The Mississauga, Ontario native played elite defence in the first round, while his scoring took a huge jump from 17.2 points per game in the regular season to 25.8 in five games against the Jazz.
When you go down the Grizzlies roster, it's not hard to see why there's optimism brewing in town, with Brandon Clarke (24), Tyus Jones (25), Desmond Bane (23), Xavier Tillman (22) and De'Anthony Melton (22) giving Memphis a deep rotation of young talent looking to be the next team to make waves in the postseason.
Among the teams to make deep runs this season, the Atlanta Hawks, powered by Trae Young and co made a huge leap this season, while Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton powered the Phoenix Suns into the NBA Finals. Not to mention Luka Doncic's first-round display for the Dallas Mavericks, and Morant's scorching play, signalling the new era for the NBA has well and truly arrived.
"I feel like we all just had a chip on our shoulder," Morant said of the new generation of playoff stars. "We all want to prove ourselves in this league we feel like we can compete with the best.
"[Those guys] are having a special season and special careers and I feel like the NBA is in good hands."
During his first NBA season, Morant took the league by storm on his way to winning Rookie of the Year, sending social media into meltdown on a nightly basis.
The high-flying guard has captured the attention of NBA fans around the world with his dunking exploits and now they'll get a close up look at his journey from South Carolina prospect to the league in his new documentary 'Promiseland'.
The six episode documentary chronicles his rise from unranked high school player to All-American at Murray State to becoming the face of the Memphis Grizzlies, featuring interviews with Carmelo Anthony, A'ja Wilson, and Moneybagg Yo.
Along the journey, Morant's family has been at the centre of his success, with the documentary giving a strong insight into how those close to him have shaped him.
"I mean they been here through it all from the Ja with no stars, no offers at one point, to Ja winning Rookie of the Year, so being able to have them on my side and having their support pushed me to be better throughout my journey," Morant said.
"They still push me to this day each and every day."
I'm proud to share my story. PROMISELAND is available June 3 on @Crackle_TV. @MoneyBaggYo @carmeloanthony @_ajawilson22 @DextonDeboree @nikebasketball @SLAMonline @Interscope pic.twitter.com/p9IeJdJyhP- Ja Morant (@JaMorant) May 20, 2021
Promiseland is available now to stream on Crackle.
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