A quote that surrounded Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant’s growth over the offseason “The Dark,” is very relative to Desmond Bane’s growth from year one to year two.
The only cameras that surrounded Bane last offseason was at Las Vegas Summer League with the young Grizzlies. Bane’s goal? Becoming more of a threat with the ball in his hands and creating not only for himself, but for the others off the dribble.
Despite having a solid rookie season for the Memphis Grizzlies, where Bane would shoot 46.9% from the field, and 43% from three-point land, the Grizzlies wanted Bane to continue progressing on both ends of the floor.
A 6’6” guard out of TCU, Bane’s biggest knock coming out of college was his below-average wingspan (6’4”). Among other weaknesses that Bane would eventually tackle throughout his first two seasons, one of those was his creation with the basketball off the dribble.
Bane’s willingness to grow his game on both ends of the floor this past offseason led to quite the 2021-22 campaign. The work that Bane put in over the offseason led to an increased role in the rotation throughout the regular season. Bane started all 76 games that he played in this past season, and his growth on the offensive side of the ball had him in “Most Improved Player” talks heading down the stretch of the regular season.
The Grizzlies grew from top to bottom this season, and while Morant’s growth was tremendous, Bane’s leap from year one to year two raised this roster’s ceiling moving forward.
- Raised Points Per Game from 9.2 in 2020-21 to 18.2 in 2021-22.
- Three-Point Attempts went up (4.0, 6.9) while bettering his 3PT percentage (43.2%, 43.6)
- Two point attempts went up (3.4, 7.4) from year one to year two (51.3%, 48.4%)
- Bane’s two point attempts shot up nearly seven more attempts per game this past season (45%, 52%) while still shooting 48%.
We saw Bane blossom in Grizzly wingman Dillon Brooks’ absence throughout the 2021-22 season. Bane’s scoring was needed with Brooks’ absence, and the sophomore wing out of TCU answered the call.
You saw it in the first round of the 2021-22 NBA Playoffs against the Timberwolves. While Morant struggled to get open looks, Bane shot lights out from the deep, and was able to create open looks without the ball in his hands.
Bane’s versatility on the offensive end was huge for Memphis this past season. He found a sweet spot around the free-throw line for his new signature pull up jumper. Bane took over social media at times with how easy he shoots his jumpers.
Bane drilled 228 three-pointers this season, topping his rookie season of 117 made three-pointers. He talked throughout the season that his goal was 250 made three-pointers. Despite missing the 250 mark, Bane broke the franchise record set by Mike Miller (202) back in 2006-07.
As far as what Bane is looking to work on this summer? “Take another leap.. evolve as a live-dribble passer and a ball-handler — wants to allow Ja to play off the ball more,” as Parker Fleming reported during the Grizzlies exit interviews.
Bane will be featured in a mix of combo guards if backup point guard Tyus Jones departs in free agency. Ball-handler by committee if you will — that mix featuring De’Anthony Melton and John Konchar along with Desmond Bane.
Wings can orchestrate the offense with Ja Morant on the bench. Bane is certainly capable of sharing those duties with Melton if Jones departs. Also, with Bane in the starting lineup, we saw a glimpse into the future during this playoff run.
The way Bane asserted himself with Morant on the floor at times is exactly what this Grizzlies team needs moving forward. Bane’s future is at it’s brightest in the city of Memphis, with this team.
The 2021-22 season will be remembered as Bane’s breakout season with this young Memphis Grizzlies team. It will also be known as the year where the Grizzlies found their second or third cog on a roster with so much upside.
Now, Bane gets to attack his favorite season, the offseason.
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