The Memphis Grizzlies announced Wednesday that Ja Morant has entered the NBA's health and safety protocols.
The 2019-20 Rookie of the Year missed the team's last five games because of a left knee sprain. He has made 19 appearances this season and is averaging 24.1 points, 6.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds.
Nobody questions Morant's importance to the Grizzlies, but the team hasn't fallen off in his absence. Memphis is riding a five-game winning streak that includes a record-setting 73-point win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 2.
Nobody has stepped up more than Desmond Bane to fill the scoring void left by Morant's injury. The second-year wing averaged 18.6 points on 50.7 percent shooting (50.0 percent from beyond the arc) in Memphis' last five contests.
Bane dropped a career-high 29 points and nearly had a double-double with nine rebounds to help the Grizzlies secure a 97-90 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 4.
Jaren Jackson Jr. is delivering as well. He's putting up 19.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game since Morant's knee injury.
The Grizzlies sit fourth in the Western Conference at 14-10, 2.5 games ahead of the Dallas Mavericks for the play-in cutoff. There's no question having a healthy Morant will boost their odds of securing a top-four seed.
For the time being, Taylor Jenkins' squad has shown it can find a winning formula when the 22-year-old is sidelined.