Without question, the Memphis Grizzlies head into the 2013-2014 NBA season with their center position the surest that it has been in quite a while. Obviously a lot of that starts with the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Marc Gasol, holding down the fort as the starting center for yet another season in Memphis.
However, the primary reason that the Grizzlies’ are going to have more certainty at the center position this season is the fact that they acquire Kosta Koufos this offseason. It has been a while since Memphis has had a competent backup center in place and Koufos is certainly someone that can be that, if not more, for the Grizzlies this season.
Despite that, though, the Grizzlies still lack a true third center on their roster in case Gasol or Koufos were to go down with injury this season. Because of that, Melvin Ely becomes an interesting player for Memphis as training camp is about to get into full swing.
Drafted 12th overall in the 2002 NBA Draft, Ely has played eight seasons in the league. In 373 career appearances, he’s averaged 5.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 16 minutes per game while shooting 46 percent from the floor.
Ely spent last season with the Texas Legends in the D-League, where the 35-year-old had a good bit of success. In 37 games for the Legends, Ely averaged 10.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 26.5 minutes per game and 50.2 percent shooting.
Though he hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2010-2011 season and has never really been productive, it wouldn’t be a shock if Ely found his way onto the Grizzlies final roster, barring any financial restraints that he might cause them. He could be a cheap third center that would serve as injury insurance and could provide a little bit of a veteran presence deep on their bench.
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