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Desmond Bane deserves the spotlight

Ja Morant is not the only member of the Grizzlies backcourt who will shine this weekend.

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend has finally arrived.

And while there is an extended break from a regular season in which the Memphis Grizzlies have been one of the most talked about (positive) storylines, a few main reasons for the Grizzlies spectacular season will remain in the spotlight this weekend.

Of course Ja Morant, who is putting together a campaign worthy of both MVP and All-NBA consideration, will be a must-see part of the main event on Sunday night as he starts in his first NBA All-Star game. However, Morant will likely be the first to tell you that Desmond Bane is more than deserving of the attention and opportunities he will get this weekend as well. The moments in front of both Morant and Bane over the next few days are byproducts of the duo becoming one of the best backcourts in the NBA.

While Morant has been a nightmare for opposing defenses in the paint and at the rim whenever he has been on the court this season, Desmond Bane has been the perfect compliment due to his consistency from distance. Entering the All-Star Break, Bane is one of 16 players with 150 or more made threes this season. He currently is tied for 10th among that group with 162 made threes.

The fact that a player on the Memphis Grizzlies is among the top ten players in three pointers made is an eye opening development within itself. However, what is truly amazing is that among the aforementioned group of 16 players, Bane is tied for 1st in 3P%, 2nd in eFG%, and third in TS% this season. While the success of many players in this group are a mixture of quantity and quality when it comes to their approach from distance, it is hard to argue that any have a better blend of accuracy and shot selection than Desmond Bane.

This is why Bane has clearly emerged as one of the top ten, and arguably top five, overall three point shooters in the NBA this season.

For that reason, in a league where it is becoming more important each and every year to shoot the three to be successful, it only makes sense for one of the league’s best shooters to have a significant role on All-Star weekend. And rightfully so, Bane will be featured quite a bit over the next two nights during the Rising Stars and Three-Point Contest.

In a Rising Stars competition that will be much more elaborate than in years past, Bane will have multiple opportunities to show off his skills.

This year’s Rising Stars event will be a basic four-team tournament format with a “Race to 75” to celebrate the NBA’s 75th anniversary. Bane will join impressive fellow 2020 draft class members Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton, among others, on Team Isiah in a field of four teams comprised of the most impressive rookies and sophomores in the NBA.

On paper, its hard to deny that Team Isiah is one of the favorites on Friday night, as Bane, Haliburton and Edwards are three of the six or seven most impactful sophomores in the league. With Edwards creating highlights at the rim and Haliburton creating opportunities for himself and others in the open court, Bane will have plenty of space to find his rhythm from deep early and often. However, do not be surprised if Bane has a highlight worthy finish/pass or two up his sleeve to show off as well.

Between games two and three, Bane and Haliburton will then join forces as a duo to take on a pair from each of the three other teams in the Clorox Clutch Challenge (Tyrese Maxey will now be paired with Scottie Barnes.) The setup is a pairs shooting challenge (shots must be alternated) from five different spots on the court for 90 seconds. While there are certainly some impressive duos involved, it is hard to deny the shooting chops of Bane and Haliburton should make them clear favorites in the Challenge.

Without a doubt, Bane will certainly be busy on Friday night. However, he also will have plenty of fun and opportunity showing that he clearly is one of the best talents among his peers in the game today. The excitement then continues into Saturday night with the Three-Point contest. And once again, Bane will be a part of a very talented group that will feature some of the best pure shooters in the NBA this season.

Patty Mills, Fred VanVleet, and Trae Young join Bane as the top four favorites in the competition, mainly due to each being in the top ten of made threes in the league. However, the rest of the field also features some of the most accurate shooters from three over the past few seasons as well. It will certainly be a tough task for any of these eight competitors to defeat the field and win the contest. Yet, Bane may have more of an advantage than most.

In a setup with three racks considered to be “above the break” with the two remaining racks in the corners, Bane’s production from this season stands out among those in the field. Bane and Mills are two of only three players this season with 300+ “above the break” three point attempts while shooting 40% or better from that area of the court. Desmond Bane has attempted the most corner threes of the eight competitors, as he is the only one with 80+ attempts while shooting better than 40% from both corners combined. While a few of the participants may be strong from one specific area, Bane has been the most productive shooter from all angles beyond the arc among those in the competition this season.

As any Grizzlies fan knows, while Bane will certainly be having plenty of fun over the weekend, the competitive juices will be flowing as well. It would be incredible to see Bane stand out on Friday night and then win the Three-Point Contest on Saturday, especially after former Grizzlies legend Mike Conley almost won the 2021 Contest.

The fact that Bane will be sharing a special stage with many of the NBA’s best young talents and shooters is a great accomplishment on its own. However, as Bane’s production this entire season has shown, he clearly has the chance to show he is among the best in both groups. And that not only stands true for this weekend, but moving forward as well.

Desmond Bane certainly deserves the spotlight that comes with being a part of All-Star weekend. However, he will also take advantage of every opportunity to make sure that spotlight only continues to shine brighter on his talents for years to come.

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