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Projecting Desmond Bane’s Sophomore Leap

What more can he bring to the Grizzlies

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2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Brooklyn Nets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

When scouting prospects for the NBA Draft each year, there is always a major discourse on the terms “floor” and “ceiling.” Coupled with that is the insane obsession with “draft age.” For some reason, players that spent more time in college are viewed as having lower ceilings and most likely higher floors. Why is that? If they had a high ceiling, then they would not have spent more than one year in college, and because they spent more time in college, they simultaneously raised their floor.

There is logic behind the notion, until there isn’t. Steph Curry spent three years at Davidson and was labeled as undersized, too thin and not explosive. One website said that he was just a spot up-guy that could not run a team at point guard. Draymond Green spent four years at Michigan State and was said to have little upside and no ability to defend on the perimeter. Take the Grizzlies’ own Dillon Brooks who spent three seasons at Oregon for example. It was said of him that people were unsure who we would be able to guard in the NBA because of a small wingspan and lack of quickness. He would not be able to iso and would most likely disrupt the flow of an offense. While he has had several moments of disrupting offensive flow, the rest is laughable.

The point is this: a player being limited or discredited simply, because they went to college beyond their freshman year is silly.

Desmond Bane was labeled as a “low ceiling” player coming into the draft, mostly because of his negative wingspan. His position versatility was said to be limited, meaning he could really only play the two-guard spot. Despite possessing a coveted, elite skill in shooting, Bane slipped to 30 because he’s old and had short arms.

How ridiculous does that sound?

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Miami Heat v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

In his rookie season, Bane played within his role, but keep in mind that he did not play Summer League nor have much of a training camp. Desmond was thrusted into the fire and at roughly 22 minutes per game, played his role well. On four attempts from deep per game, Bane shot 43%. But we know this, Bane is a sniper. In his senior season at TCU, he shot 44% on 6.5 shots from three per game. It was just assumed that his NBA role was simply a spot-up shooter.

In the words of the great Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend.”

Desmond Bane is way more than a spot-up shooter, and his ceiling is much higher than the pre draft pundits reported — there is no chance there will be 29 players better than Bane when it is all said and done.

The wing rotation in Memphis was and still is in a logjam. While subtracting Grayson Allen from the mix, Sam Merrill and Ziaire Williams have entered the conversation. Merrill may be destined for time in Southaven, but you simply do not trade up for a guy in the top ten and not play him.

There should be no argument that Desmond Bane needs more than 22 minutes per game and his four three point attempts. Bane should be approaching 28 minutes and 7-8 threes per contest to maximize the impact of his elite shooting.

So what would a Sophomore leap look like for both Bane and the Grizzlies?

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Miami Heat v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

During his senior season at TCU, Bane was the primary point guard and led his team with 3.9 assists (6th in the BIG 12). The basketball IQ and playmaking chops were on full display despite a high turnover rate of 2.3 per game. His offensive box +/- sky rocketed to a +7.1, good for second in the BIG 12 behind Udoka Azubuike (7.2). He finished with a higher assist % than usage %, suggesting that, despite his league-leading three-point shooting, he was contributing more as a playmaker than a scorer. His assist percentage of 26% was good for 4th in the BIG 12.

Desmond Bane, Jared Butler and Devon Dotson were the only three players in the conference to be top 10 in both scoring and assists, and Bane was second behind Dotson in both.

In this year’s summer league, both Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, Bane returned to his college glory days as a point guard. Surrounded by Xavier Tillman, Killian Tillie, John Konchar and Sean McDermott/Ziaire Williams, Bane had the talent and chemistry on the floor to be successful running the show.

In Vegas, Bane averaged 24 points on 69% shooting from deep along with 4 assists, 3.5 rebounds and a steal. He did average 3 turnovers, but it is Summer League — a time for experimenting. In Utah, he averaged 19 points on 31% shooting from deep with 3.5 assists, 5 rebounds and a steal. His assist to turnover ratio in Utah was a 1, which is still not good.

But for the Grizzlies and their rotational logjam, Bane should have proved this summer and with his collegiate resume, that he is more than capable of limited backup point guard minutes. With a roster in need of a few more moves, a combination of Bane, Melton and Anderson may make Tyus Jones even more expendable.

This game highlight from the Brooklyn game in Vegas, shows you that the Grizzlies putting the ball in Bane’s hands goes beyond his playmaking ability. Memphis desperately needs players that can create for themselves outside of Morant and at times Brooks. A Summer League run with a high usage rate for Bane gives the Grizzlies coaching staff the looks they need:

Bane showed all summer that he is more than just a catch and shoot sniper. He can attack off the dribble and score at the rim, he can shoot dribble pull up threes, and he can operate as the handler in pick n rolls.

The move of Grayson Allen obviously carves out minutes in the rotation and Desmond Bane is primed for a major role with the Grizzlies as a scorer and secondary playmaker. His shot total needs to increase while maintaining the efficiency in order for the Grizz to remain in the playoff hunt this season.

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