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Grizzlies’ Desmond Bane: Ja Morant belongs in debate of NBA’s best point guard

Ja Morant and Stephen Curry in Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 28: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies is guarded by Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center on October 28, 2021 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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Ja Morant is a star.

We don’t need to wait for Western Conference coaches (or the conglomeration of fans, media and players who choose starters) to put the third-year Grizzlies point guard into his first All-Star game. Morant has continued his upward trajectory in ways that look sustainable. We can definitively declare right now: Morant is a star.

Memphis teammate Desmond Bane wants to go a step further.

Bane, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN:

“He’s special,” said Bane, whose 29 points helped propel Memphis to a fifth straight win. “People debate whether or not he should be an All-Star, but I think we should be debating whether he’s the best point guard in the league.

“I don’t think it’s any question he’s an All-Star. The real conversation is, ‘Is he the best point guard in the league?’”

Morant is not better than Stephen Curry. The Warriors’ point guard deservedly leads the MVP race. He’s the NBA’s top point guard.

But Morant has earned his way into discussion of second-best point guard.

The Suns’ Chris Paul has such a mastery of the game, both offensively and defensively. I rate him ahead of Morant. But the 36-year-old Paul is past his peak. Morant (22) is rising quickly and will eventually pass Paul, maybe even sooner than later.

Hawks point guard Trae Young is a phenomenal offensive player – a smooth shooter, creative driver and deft passer. He is a defensive liability, though.

Is James Harden still a point guard? Is he still better than Morant? Kyrie Irving will return to play, too. The Nets’ guards are tricky to slot.

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has recently and consistently played at a higher level than Morant is at now but slumped badly to begin the season. Will Lillard get healthier and regain his form over the long haul? Or has the 31-year-old regressed?

The Mavericks’ Luke Doncic is capable of carrying a huge creation load but has been too inefficient offensively and lackadaisical defensively this season. Perhaps, he’ll get into better shape.

Jrue Holiday is committed both ends of the floor, young enough to still have athleticism and experienced enough to play with veteran savvy. The Bucks guard lacks the name recognition of others in the discussion, but Holiday is playing at a very high level right now.

So is Morant. Morant’s case is inspiring because it’s based on what he’s actually producing – not what he could be doing under different circumstances. Morant is just making it happen.

I doubt Bane believes Morant is better than Curry. But these young Grizzlies fiercely champion each other. Morant has helped build that culture, and it’s part of his value. Bane also succeeded in sparking a debate that, while Morant won’t win, is very flattering to Morant.