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Update: Desmond Bane Really Is That Dude

Desmond Bane
(Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Update: Desmond Bane Really Is That Dude

This article is coming to you one night after Desmond Bane dropped a career-high 32 points on the Phoenix Suns. Truthfully, it’s long overdue. Bane has been fantastic this season across the board, including in Ja Morant’s absence. However, this should not be a surprise. Everyone should have seen this coming. Here’s a look back at Desmond Bane’s rise, every step of the way.

2020 NBA Draft

Entering the 2020 NBA Draft, I absolutely loved Desmond Bane’s potential. In two 2020 mocks, I slotted the TCU guard as the No. 15 pick and the No. 23 pick, respectively. Those were just projections of course, and I fully acknowledged that he was perhaps the most underrated player in his class. My first scouting report on him read as follows:

Another underrated prospect, Bane brings a high IQ to both offense and defense. He is an excellent overall scorer and a knockdown shooter. While limited athletically, Desmond Bane will be a solid choice for any team looking for a well-rounded, smart basketball player.

Karl Heiser, 2020 NBA Mock Draft 2.0

Bane fell to No. 30 overall, where the Memphis Grizzlies snagged the pick in a trade with the Boston Celtics. I graded the pick an A+ at the time.

This is the steal of the draft. Incredible decision by Memphis to trade into the 30th pick. Desmond Bane is a knockdown shooter, great playmaker, and has a high motor that fits well into the Memphis culture. He should be able to contribute right away as a combo guard behind Ja Morant.

Karl Heiser, 2020 NBA Draft: LIVE First Round Grades and Analysis

Not trying to toot my own horn here. My main point is that I don’t see how I was able to see Bane’s high-level talent and upside where professional scouts did not. So many people missed on Desmond Bane, and the Grizzlies got a really good one.

Rookie Year

In his rookie season, Bane averaged 9.2 points and 3.1 rebounds over 22.3 minutes per game. He shot the ball well, with a slash line of .469/.432/.816. He did not get a ton of run in Memphis’ five playoff games, but he still displayed excellent efficiency. Bane was named to the All-Rookie Second Team, which justified the A+ grade I gave him after the draft.

More minutes and more shot opportunities could make Desmond Bane a real problem down the road.

Karl Heiser, 2020-21 NBA All-Rookie Teams: Revisiting Their Draft Grades

The only thing that separated him from the First Team was low usage. Entering Year 2, it was pretty clear that Bane was ready for a bigger role.

Sophomore Year

In case you weren’t sure, the second-year jump happened. Bane is now getting 29.5 minutes per game and almost twice as many shot attempts per game as he did last year. He is averaging 17.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game on a slash line of .472/.426/.935. Talk about making the most of your opportunity.

Bane has leveled up from his rookie year with an increased in minutes. Jarrod Prosser named him in his piece on surprising sophomores. The more touches Desmond Bane has gotten, the more frequently we have gotten to see him do things like this:

Insane range and confidence. Over the last 13 games, the second-year guard is shooting a blistering 48.1% from the field and 47.9% from three while averaging over 20 points a game. Here’s a fun little statistical quirk regarding his shooting up to this point in his career:

I’m still not clear on why a 6’6″ knockdown shooter and playmaker like Bane fell to No. 30 in his draft class. The dude is clearly playing with a chip on his shoulder. After dropping 29 points and nine rebounds in a 97-90 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, he sounded off on the doubters.

No, Josh Green did not play in that game. The Memphis Grizzlies are currently the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference with a 21-14 record.

Give Desmond Bane the MIP Award

Desmond Bane should be the runaway favorite for this season’s Most Improved Player award. In case you were wondering, he is currently +4000 to win MIP. This is NOT gambling advice, but it’s also NOT NOT gambling advice. Do with that what you will. His star teammate Ja Morant agrees:

MIP now, but could Bane be an All-Star in the future? His trajectory up to this point seems to suggest so. He is emerging as one of the best players on a young Grizzlies team.

In closing, Desmond Bane is really that dude. It’s so fun to watch him play and see him succeed. I think he’s here to stay, and he’s making me a Memphis Grizzlies fan. You all have been warned for the last time.

***

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