Ja Morant may be in line to miss the first 25 games of the upcoming campaign, but this Memphis Grizzlies team seems well-equipped to, at the very least, stay afloat during this presumed trying time.
If not due to the fact that they boast an impressive record of 31-15 without the superstar in the lineup over the last two seasons, fans should feel quite confident in this club’s potential to overcome his absence considering the slew of other impressive talents they hold on the roster.
From veteran newcomer Marcus Smart to returning All-Star Jaren Jackson Jr., head coach Taylor Jenkins will have plenty of players to lean on in an effort to make up for the loss of Morant.
However, the name many assume will step up the most and take on the number one option role this season is fourth-year guard Desmond Bane.
The 25-year-old has visibly managed to up his production with every passing season in the association, with 2022-23 proving to be his absolute best.
Considering this trajectory, it only seems natural that the 2023-24 season will end up having Bane see new heights in his career, and Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley recently noted that it is this type of “perpetual growth” that has him predicting an All-Star bid could be on the horizon.
Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane predicted to become a first-time All-Star in 2024
"“Last season, he was one of only 14 players to average 20 points, five rebounds, four assists and two three-pointers. Among that elite, exclusive club, he had the second-best three-point percentage (40.8) and fifth-highest free-throw percentage (88.3).If his numbers aren’t enough on their own—and they easily could be—he also has a chance to score points with All-Star voters who like a good narrative. If Memphis manages to thrive without Morant, Bane might be the biggest reason why,” Buckley wrote."
Despite suffering from a nagging foot injury, last season Bane went on to put forth career-best efforts, boasting stellar averages of 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.0 steals while shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from distance.
With this productivity, the Grizzlies agreed to shell out a lucrative five-year, $207 million contract extension in his direction to keep him in Grind City through at least the 2028-29 season.
Considering he had such a tremendous season whilst both hobbled and serving as the second or, at times, even third option, it should come as no surprise that Buckley believes Bane could be heading to Indianapolis for 2024’s illustrious exhibition while manning the top-spot in Memphis’ pecking order.
We feel the same way ourselves.