The Memphis Grizzlies have been one of the best surprises in the NBA this season, posting a 32-17 record through 49 games and are the third seed in the always-tough Western Conference.
Last season they barely made the playoffs going 38-34, and had to win two games in the play-in tournament just to make the postseason.
They then lost to the Utah Jazz in the first round.
However, this season they look like a team poised to get home-court advantage in the daunted Western Conference.
One of the biggest reasons for their improvement this season has been the play of second-year player Desmond Bane. The 23-year-old is averaging 17.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
He's also shooting an incredible 42% from the three-point range on nearly seven attempts per game.
"Exciting times in Memphis, of course," Bane said in a phone interview earlier this month "We've put in a lot of work, I think last year was huge for us experience wise."
Even with the success this season, Bane is far from complacent.
"Obviously, I'm very pleased with what we've done, but we still got a lot more to do," he said.
One of the most impressive things about Bane's stat line this season is that he was not a high draft pick in 2020.
The former TCU star averaged 16.6 points per game on over 44% shooting from the three-point range during his senior season, but he was still the last pick in the first-round (30th overall).
Out of all of the players from his draft class he is averaging the fourth-most points per game this season.
The only three players in front of him in points per game are Minnesota's Anthony Edwards (first overall pick), Charlotte's LaMelo Ball (third overall pick) and Orlando's Cole Anthony (15th overall pick).
"I was grateful to have been drafted, period," he said. "It was a dream of mine to be in the NBA, but I thought that I was better than some of the people that had been taken before me. I've always had a chip on my shoulder regardless if I woulda went in the lottery, or second-round, or 30 where I went."
The way he is shooting the ball since he has entered the league is up there with some of the best players in the entire NBA.
Out of his draft class, he is making the second-most three-pointers per game this season (2.9), and for the entire NBA he is 18th, which is one spot ahead of LeBron James, who is making 2.8 per game.
"That's what the Grizzlies wanted me to do," Bane said. "They want us all to kind of embrace that mentality of letting it fly."
Bane would have interest in being in the NBA All-Star game's annual three-point contest this season.
"Whenever that opportunity arises, I will gladly be appreciative of the opportunity," he said.
In addition, Bane believes that he should be in the Rising Stars Game at All-Star weekend.
"I've proven myself," he said. "I thought that I should have been selected to participate last year."
The Grizzlies are also led by Ja Morant, a superstar in the making who is looking like he will be an All-Star this season with averages of 25.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game.
Morant was the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and is the face of the franchise.
Bane and Morant instantly hit it off once he got to Memphis.
"That's gonna be one of my brothers for life, for sure," Bane said.
Bane is having a stellar sophomore season, and the Grizzlies are one of the best teams in the entire NBA.
They have beaten the best teams in the NBA such as the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls.
In addition, they went on a franchise-record 11-game winning streak earlier this season.
So, how far can they truly go in the playoffs?
"I certainly wouldn't say that it's impossible for us to make a deep run in the playoffs this year," Bane said. "We're just taking it a day at a time and enjoying the process and the journey."
This week, they will take on the San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards.