Desmond Bane took a massive leap in his sophomore year, catapulting himself into a lot of honorable conversations — a cornerstone pillar for the Memphis Grizzlies franchise, and one of the best shooting guards in the NBA.
Looking ahead to his 3rd year, everyone is awaiting to see if there’s another jump in his game. It leads to various avenues for him to achieve that. In exit interviews, he talked about wanting to grow as a live-dribble creator and a pick-and-roll ball-handler, with the idea that he could allow for Ja Morant to play off the ball more. Growth in this area, as well as mid-range creation, is what people covering the Grizzlies have discussed as a pathway to another leap.
What if Desmond Bane achieves his next step by taking even more 3’s?
Bane has solidified himself as one of the best shooters in the world. In an interview with SI’s Michael Pina, he said — aside from Steph Curry — you’ll need to show him another shooter better than him. It’s hard to argue against him!
Last season, Bane finished 2nd in the NBA in 3-point percentage, connecting on 43.6% of his attempts. He also set the single-season franchise record for 3’s made (228) in a season, surpassing Mike Miller’s previous record (202). In doing so, he upped his 3-point volume from 4 attempts per game to 6.9 per game.
Bane’s current 3-point volume is nice for sure, but there’s also another gear to be unlocked. While Bane ranks among the top of the league in 3-point percentage, he was 37th in 3-point attempts per game. Among all players that attempted 5 or more 3’s, he was 63rd out of 96 players in 3-point attempt rate, as 47.5% of his shots came from beyond the arc — falling in the 44th percentile in 3-point frequency, per Cleaning the Glass.
As Bane’s game continues to rise, it’s fair to wonder what it’d look like for him to fire even more 3’s. He’s already shown the ability to maintain accurate as his volume jumps up. Aforementioned, he bumped his attempts per game up by 3 points, while actually increasing his percentage by 0.4 points (43.2 to 43.6% between his rookie and sophomore seasons). He’s provided glimpses of what it looks like when he launches 9-10 three’s a game, and it’s marvelous.
Last season, Desmond Bane connected on 48.3% (106/207) of his 3’s in the 20 games where he attempted at least 9 three-pointer’s per game — and the Grizzlies went 12-8 (49-win pace) in those games. He also absolutely torched the Minnesota Timberwolves in their first-round series, scoring 23.1 points per game and shooting 49.1% from downtown. He did so on 9.2 3-point attempts per game.
Similar to what he showed in his sophomore leap, he’s proven that he can maintain accuracy with an increased volume. After proving he can be even deadlier on 9-10 three’s per game in the postseason, achieving that mark could be a focal point in Bane’s year 3 — something he mentioned in exit interviews:
“You look at all the high level scorers in this league, and they either get to the foul line a lot or shoot a lot of 3’s. Dame Lillard, CJ McCollum, Steph. All those guys shooting 9-10 3’s a game. It’s about finding variety. I feel like I complement Ja real well, because he collapses the defense and draws so much attention, so I know I’m going to get a few of those. But being able to get them myself off the dribble, out of the pick-and-roll’s, transition 3’s - if I get rebounds or a kick-ahead’s. Those things, finding ways to get creative and get 10 efficient 3’s up a game.”
In relation to “variety” and “creativity,” Desmond Bane is far from a one-dimensional player. He can fire up 3’s in various ways while maintaining efficiency. This past season, he shot 43.1% on pull-up 3’s, 44% on catch-and-shoot 3’s, and 44.9% on above the break 3’s — per The B-Ball Index. He also scored 0.98 PPP in isolation, 0.99 PPP off hand-off’s, and 0.99 PPP off screen’s.
When it comes to Bane’s scoring versatility, the eye-test matched the numbers. He became more comfortable creating and scoring in many more ways compared to his rookie season. He embraced the paint more, operating as a driver and a cutter — typically in line with the deft screening and passing of Steven Adams. He sought after pull-up jumpers in the mid-range and from downtown, while even letting it fly in transition.
Desmond Bane's leap and evolution has been so cool this year, and it's a big part as to why the Grizzlies' successful regular season@StatsSAC on his value beyond shooting:https://t.co/O4AvAN33Mb— Parker Fleming (@PAKA_FLOCKA) April 6, 2022
Me on the sets and actions Jenkins is creating for Bane:https://t.co/LvlXu7IBZm pic.twitter.com/EK81Rhr8r2
The creativity element is going to be something to monitor next season. Creativity falls in line with his desire to grow as a live-dribble creator. One of those ways is through growing as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, as he only scored 0.79 PPP in those situations — ranking in the 21st percentile, per The B-Ball Index. He has the framework to grow in this area. His isolation efficiency and his superb pull-up shooting are good foundations for an improvement in the pick-and-roll, and he also has one of the league’s best players at screen assists in Steven Adams. Bane becoming a better pick-and-roll player this year wouldn’t be surprising.
There’s also a creativity aspect that falls on the coaching staff as well. The Grizzlies deployed Desmond Bane in more actions this past season, and he’s great at scoring off movement (4.0 points off movement per 75 possessions) and off screens (2.5 off screen scoring opportunities per 75 possessions, per The B-Ball index). The Grizzlies need to continue tapping into his movement scoring and his budding live-dribble creation to explore creative avenues for him to let it fly.
Desmond Bane upping his 3-point volume even more will have a trickle down effect on his game and for the Grizzlies’ system.
Starting with statistical implications, let’s say for conversation’s sake he raises his attempts per game somewhere between 8.5 and 9.0 — which would have him hovering in the top-10 range alongside Luka Doncic, Buddy Hield, Jayson Tatum, and Anthony Edwards. If he does this while staying in the 40% ballpark, he’ll join Steph Curry (3 times), Duncan Robinson (2 times), CJ McCollum, Dame Lillard, Zach LaVine, and Dāvis Bertāns as the only players in the past 5 years to shoot at least 40% from 3 on 8 or more attempts per game. That’d be elite, and Bane’s developed the track record to suggest he could join this crowd. He could also eclipse the 20-PPG mark — and that may happen whether he shoots more 3’s or not. Hitting these categories will help him garner serious consideration for an All-Star bid.
An increased 3-point volume should help boost the Grizzlies’ half-court offense. The Grizzlies were 22nd in points per 100 halfcourt plays (93.4) last season, per Cleaning the Glass, which was the 3rd-lowest among all playoff teams. They boasted an elite offense (4th in Offensive Rating) through elite offensive rebounding and transition efficiency. While they maintain the advantage on the glass with Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke, they’re losing two key cogs in their transition success with the departures of Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton. They’ll need to offset it with better halfcourt offense, and a ticket to do so is with improved perimeter shooting — the Grizzlies were 23rd in 3-point attempts per game (32.7). Bane could lead the charge in revamping halfcourt and perimeter offense by letting it fly even more.
It should also trickle down into his growth as a live-dribble creator. I previously touched on how he could use his elite pull-up shooting and isolation efficiency to grow as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. However, it could lead to even more dominos for his game. He could attack closeouts and find opportunities to score inside the arc, whether it’s for himself or for his teammates. Especially after his sophomore year breakout, defenses will look to adjust to his elite marksmanship, leading to a pathway to showcase his bag off the dribble.
The idea of Desmond Bane increasing his 3-point volume isn’t to force him to be a specialist, because he’s way more than that. He’s a good secondary playmaker that can explore cutting lanes, finish in transition, and embrace contact. He needs to continue rolling with what’s made him successful to this point. Nonetheless though, launching more 3’s could lead to big things for Desmond Bane and the Grizzlies offense.
Desmond Bane is the perfect complement to Ja Morant, and he’s grown into being the number 2 option for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Bane is similar to Klay Thompson, an often comparison in year 2, in the Grizzlies’ offensive system. Bane could get going from deep off movement — utilizing ball screen’s, pindown’s, and hand-off’s — while also busting out a lethal pump fake to get defenders to fly by over him as he comfortably fires 3’s. Both Bane and Thompson capitalize on the gravity of their transcendent point guards for catch-and-shoot 3 opportunities.
Into year 3, as he’s looking to take more 3’s and grow as a live-dribble creator, he could also add more of a pull-up game similar to a complementary guard like CJ McCollum — a dynamic, ball-handling shot-creator that also plays off a superstar point guard, and initiates the offense in spurts.
In Desmond Bane’s sophomore explosion, he emerged as one of the NBA’s best shooting guards and 3-point marksmen. He also showed there’s even more to tap into his game, where he may become an All-Star — or perhaps an All-NBA player down the road:
It wouldn’t surprise me if Desmond Bane makes an All-NBA team someday. That’ll depend a lot on his usage but Bane averaged 18.2 points in only 29.8 minutes and 14.5 shots. I’d love to someday see what he can do with nearly 20 shots a night. Too much scoring talent not to explore.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) April 24, 2022
Taylor Jenkins and the coaching staff encourage triples with the phrase, “take more 3’s to make more 3’s.” And Desmond Bane letting it fly even more can help him soar to another level en route to another leap.