In the latest edition of “The Players’ Tribune”, Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane talks about his development as a player and what it means for him to play with Ja Morant.
Desmond Bane, a Memphis Grizzlies’ player, praised the performance of Ja Morant after his latest All-Star game. He said that he was “impressed” with how well Morant played in the game and that he could see him becoming a “superstar.”
12:00:27 A.M. ET
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
NEW YORK (WABC) — Desmond Bane of the Memphis Grizzlies has heard the talk over whether or not his backcourt colleague Ja Morant should play in his first All-Star Game this season.
However, after Morant’s most recent spectacular performance — 36 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, and a game-high plus-24 in 33 minutes of a 118-104 Memphis victory against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night at Barclays Center — Bane believes the discussion is misguided.
“He’s unique,” Memphis coach Rick Pitino said of Bane, who scored 29 points to lead the Tigers to their fifth consecutive victory. “People argue about whether he should be an All-Star, but I believe we should be arguing whether he is the league’s best point guard.”
“I don’t believe there’s any doubt he’s an All-Star; the real issue is, is he the league’s best point guard?”
While a certain No. 30 is doing his thing in the Bay Area, Morant will have a hard time competing for that honor. But there’s no denying that the third-year guard has established himself as a star.
Morant scored 41 points in a win against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers last week in Memphis, Tennessee. As the Grizzlies firmly establish themselves as a top-four seed in the Western Conference, it was Kevin Durant’s turn to witness Morant slice and carve his way through an opponent on Monday.
“I mean, he’s just dominating the game and has always been an efficient guy who can handle the point guard position,” Durant said after scoring 26 points but shooting 8-for-24 from the field, which was unusually unproductive for him. “He’s also grown into a significant scorer.” He simply plays with a lot of energy and excitement out there, and you’ve watched him bloom right in front of our eyes.
“He’s been on this path since college. As a basketball fan, I’m excited to watch how things go in the next years.”
Forget about the future; Morant’s present is already fairly terrific, as he displayed in a thrilling third quarter in which he blasted up a game that Memphis had only led by six points at halftime.
In that period, the Grizzlies outscored the Nets 40-26, with Morant scoring half of his 36 points in only 12 minutes.
While his amazing slam (Morant swooped in from the left side to explode at the rim) will undoubtedly get the most attention, it was his continuous assaults through Brooklyn’s defense for one twisted layup after another that were possibly more remarkable.
When questioned about his attitude in the third quarter, Morant stated, “Just keep aggressive, pretty much.” “I felt we played really well in the first half, but we didn’t go out and run nearly as much as we should have.”
“My role is to get stops, grab the board, and drive the tempo, whether it’s me kicking the ball forward or moving the ball down the floor. I was able to move downhill and locate my teammates and score.”
Memphis is currently ten games over.500, and many games ahead of the pack of clubs vying for the Western Conference playoff slots in the 5-10 range.
It was a dominating effort, with Memphis outrebounding Brooklyn by 29 points, and it was considerably more lopsided than the final score suggested, owing to a mostly inconsequential fourth-quarter comeback by Brooklyn’s bench. That didn’t influence Nets coach Steve Nash’s evaluation of his team’s performance after recuperating from a COVID-19 epidemic that afflicted the whole organization before of Kyrie Irving’s season opener against Indiana on Wednesday.
“Let’s not overreact,” Nash added, “but it was humiliating tonight.” “We got our butts kicked, and we have to do a lot better to go back to the level where we used to play.”
The squad Memphis has created around Morant has enabled the Grizzlies to keep winning no matter who is available, thanks to the talent gathered by general manager Zach Kleiman, which includes players like Bane and Jarvis Jackson Jr., and the coaching of Taylor Jenkins.
Despite the Grizzlies’ ability to not just survive, but thrive, while rotating players in and out of the lineup — a predicament that nearly every NBA team is facing these days — it is Morant who is unquestionably the club’s driving force.
“Obviously, I’ve said that he’s an All-Star, but I believe the follow-up is that he has an influence on winning,” Jenkins said. “His style of play is whatever his teammates need… yet after a performance like that, all he thinks about is continuing to win, winning, winning.”
When questioned about the All-Star buzz, Morant said that he would not engage in any media marketing. Instead, he stated he’d leave that to others and let his game speak for itself.
“To be honest, I don’t think about it all that much,” he remarked. “Everyone who knows me, including my teammates and others in the organization, understands I’m a modest man who is also confident.
“So,” he added, smiling, “I’m going to let my teammates continue to speak for me.” “I’m just going to go out there and do what I can on the floor to assist them further make their case.”
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