Each of the 30 SB Nation NBA blogs were asked to partake in a discussion on "#GameChangers," as our friends at PS would like for us to call them. So, naturally, I was more than happy to oblige. It took quite a spell, a few days even, to come up with an actual "game changer" on the Memphis Grizzlies roster. What about Rudy Gay? His return this season was supposed to be, well, game changing. Still, he's yet to really elevate this team. I suppose, in a way that a super star should. What about Zach Randolph? Our game changed when he went down, right? Too negative. Mike Conley? Great season, but... Marreese Speights? Inconsistent. O.J. Mayo? See: Speights.
This led me to the most obvious game changer on the roster. Our rock. Our All-Star. Our Marc Gasol. I know it seems like an "easy" call to name Gasol our game changer, but... can you argue against him?
If it weren't for Gasol, there's no question we would be about 4 games under .500 right now -- maybe more. When Randolph went down, we all turned the "next alternative." Speights? Dante Cunningham? Sure, they've filled in nicely, but it's been Gasol who has stepped up his game, elevated it to a point we didn't even ask him to bring it to. Right? No one said, "Randolph went down, now we need Gasol to turn into an All-Star." We simply said, again, "who can we get to replace Randolph?" With the inconsistencies of Speights and Cunningham, we haven't had to worry all that much about replacing Randolph, and that's thanks to Gasol.
On paper, 15 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks don't even begin to tell the story. Gasol has been the perfect model of consistency on this team. He's been the leader. The "better" Gasol brother, if you will. (OK, let's not go there, let's just call him the more "valuable to his own team Gasol brother..." fair enough?)
We've seen what this team looks like without Gay (more or less, different pieces, but...) and we know what we look like without Randolph. But, can you imagine what we'd look like without Gasol? Our interior defense would be brutal. Off the glass, we'd be Randolph (when healthy) and...? The pick-and-rolls wouldn't have the same flare -- Randolph sets a pick, rolls, Conley hits him, drives to the hoop, Randolph closed in on, defense collapses on Conley, Gasol is left open to finish, like he's done so many times this year. It just sounds so pretty, doesn't it?
So, with that, I personally would like to nominate Gasol as our #GameChanger. Maybe you agree with me, maybe not. Or maybe you think I went "too easy" here by picking our All-Star, but there really is no doubt in my mind that if you take him off this team, and you erase what he's done, even with a healthy Randolph, we wouldn't be well-above water heading into the ASB.
Big ups to Gasol, our anchor.