Ja Morant Should Be in Conversation for Best PG in NBA, Grizzlies' Desmond Bane Says

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 4, 2022

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Monday, Dec. 27, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane paid teammate Ja Morant a huge compliment Tuesday following the Grizzlies' 118-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Morant was central to the victory with 36 points, eight assists and six rebounds, leading Bane to make the following comment:

"He's special. I mean, people debate whether or not he should be an All-Star, but I mean I think we should be debating whether or not he's the best point guard in the league. I mean, I don't think that, you know, it's any question that he's an All-Star. I think that, you know, the real conversation is, 'Is he the best point guard in the league?'"

With Morant leading the way, the Grizzlies are on a Western Conference-best five-game winning streak, and they find themselves in fourth place in the conference at 24-14.

The 22-year-old Morant showed flashes of brilliance in his first two seasons after going No. 2 in the 2019 draft, including winning the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year award, and he has truly come into his own this season.

Through 26 games, he is averaging a career-high 25.1 points per contest, crushing his previous mark of 19.1 set last season. He is also putting up 6.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.8 three-pointers made and 1.4 steals per game.

Perhaps most impressively, he has immensely improved his scoring efficiency, shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from beyond the arc after shooting 44.9 percent and 30.3 percent, respectively, last season.

When Morant arrived in Memphis, the Grizzlies had missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and were coming off a 33-49 campaign. After improving to 34-39 in his rookie season, the Grizzlies took another step forward last season by going 38-34 and reaching the playoffs.

They entered play Tuesday as one of only four teams in the Western Conference with at least 20 wins, so barring an unforeseen collapse, the Grizz will be back in the playoffs again this season.

Morant also feels like a virtual lock to earn his first All-Star nod given his statistical output and his team's record.

While it would be difficult to put Morant ahead of Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks when ranking point guards, he may belong in the conversation with Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks and Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns.

That is a highly impressive distinction for a player in his third season, and if he continues to progress at his current rate, he may find himself at or near the top in the not-too-distant future.