Like so many other teams across the NBA this season, the injury bug has also bite the Memphis Grizzlies, more than once. They have lost their star center, Marc Gasol, for roughly two months, Tony Allen has gone through multiple stretches of absences and now Mike Conley will be out until after the All-Star Break.
Despite the number of injuries, Memphis has managed to stay afloat in the Western Conference Playoff race, battling for the eighth place position with the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves. With that being said, Gasol controls the postseason fate of the Grizzlies.
When the 7-footer went down earlier in the season, Memphis struggled to find the win column, dropping well out of playoff contention. However, it was a different story when he returned, as it sparked success for the team. The Grizzlies stayed on track and kept pace for eighth in the West with a victory over the Atlanta Hawks Saturday night, 79-76. The low-scoring affair was nothing to get excited about for Gasol, who only had eight points on 4-of-14 shooting, but added eight rebounds and seven assists.
Currently without Conley or Allen, the Grizzlies really need Gasol to be a consistent beast in the paint. There is no doubt in my mind that Gasol is one of the best up-and-coming centers in the league. I will even go as far to say that he is even better than his brother Pau Gasol. Leadership usually comes with time and experience, but for Marc, he doesn’t have time to wait because Memphis needs him to step up now. Between the injuries and lack of depth, Gasol will have to be a big star in order for the Grizzlies to make the playoffs. Once healthy, however, the Memphis team is more than capable of being a menace in the West and should still be considered a contender to make the Western Conference Finals.
Shane Phillips is an NBA Writer for RantSports.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneRantNBA, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also email Shane at ShaneRantNBA@gmail.com.