Grizzlies' Ja Morant Gifts NBA Most Improved Player Award to Desmond BaneApril 26, 2022
Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant won the NBA's 2021-22 Most Improved Player Award, but instead of keeping the trophy, he gifted it to teammate Desmond Bane, who finished fifth in the voting.
"This award goes to me, but I feel like it's a team effort," Morant said, per Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.
Instead of being an MIP candidate, many thought Morant should have been an MVP candidate. He averaged 27.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game during the regular season while shooting 49.3 percent from the floor and 34.4 percent from deep.
It was certainly an improvement from the 2020-21 season (19.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 7.4 APG, 44.9 FG%, 30.3 3PT%), but players such as Bane and Jordan Poole, in the eyes of many, should have been the top Most Improved Player candidates.
Bane, the No. 30 pick in 2020, averaged 9.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game last season. This year, he averaged 18.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists.
A year after the Grizzlies finishing 38-34 and lost in five games to the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs, they secured the second seed in the Western Conference with a 56-26 record.