The Memphis Grizzlies completed one of the best trades of the NBA off-season that hardly anyone is talking about. On the night of the 2013 NBA Draft, the Grizzlies completed a deal with the Denver Nuggets that sent Darrell Arthur to Denver and sent Kosta Koufos, the starting center for the Nuggets in their 57-win season last year, to the Grizzlies.
Koufos started all 81 games that he played in for Denver last season, though he didn’t play a normal starter’s share of minutes. Koufos put up career-highs across the board, averaging eight points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 22.4 minutes per game while also shooting a solid 58.1 percent from the floor.
Not only is Koufos a 24-year-old center that seems to be just on the cusp of realizing his potential as an NBA center, but he’s also a guy that fits a big need for Memphis.
Though the Grizzlies made it to the Western Conference Finals last season, they weren’t exactly a deep team, especially at the center position. In fact, after the Grizzlies traded away Hamed Haddadi at the trade deadline, starter Marc Gasol was the only player on their roster whose primary position was listed as center.
Though Gasol is fantastic defensively and creates a lot of opportunities on the offensive end of the floor, he’s not capable of playing 48 minutes per night. In the end, 36 minutes per game is probably the max that Memphis would like to play him. Adding Koufos gives them the flexibility to not only be a quality backup to Gasol, but to also help if Gasol were to get in foul trouble or anything.
Koufos is likely going to see his minutes decrease in comparison to last season with Denver, but his importance is arguably going to be much higher. The Grizzlies now have Koufos to come off of the bench and not disrupt the flow of the game for them. For a team looking to make it to the NBA Finals next season, Koufos is a sneaky great addition and it’s really surprising more people aren’t talking about it.