The Memphis Grizzlies and the Denver Nuggets agreed to an under-the-radar trade on the night of the 2013 NBA Draft when the Grizzlies sent Darrell Arthur to their conference foe in exchange for center Kosta Koufos. Though there weren’t many headlines because of the timing of the trade, the Grizzlies finally landed a player they had been high on for a while.
According to David Aldridge on NBA.com, the Grizzlies had been interested in enlisting Koufos’ services for more than a year before the trade finally was completed in late June as the Nuggets wanted to get JaVale McGee more playing time. After waiting over a year, the timing was finally right it seems.
Splitting time with McGee last season in Denver, Koufos was quietly really impressive. In 81 games he averaged eight points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in only 22.4 minutes per game. He also shot a solid 58.1 percent from the floor, though he did have a slight case of big-man-shooting-free-throws woes as he hit only 55.8 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe.
Koufos finally gives the Grizzlies a competent backup to reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol. Not only will Koufos give the Grizzlies a center off of the bench that can deliver solidly on both ends of the floor, but they will also no longer have to worry about overworking Gasol, who played a hefty 35 minutes per game in the regular last season and an absurd 40.6 minutes per game over 15 postseason games.
Koufos is a fantastic addition in terms of what he individually can bring to the table and also in what he allows the Grizzlies to do. He brings them more flexibility in their frontcourt and should allow them to keep one of their stars in Gasol fresher. As the Grizzlies try and get back to the Western Conference Finals, the Koufos trade could be a huge lift in terms of making that happen.
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