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Grading the 2013-14 Memphis Grizzlies: Kosta Koufos

A rock-solid fixture in the lane and in the lineup.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Kosta Koufos

2013-14 Regular Season Stats

80 16.9 2.8 5.7 49.5% 0.0 0.0 N/A 0.8 1.2 64.5% 2.0 3.2 5.2 0.5 0.8 0.4 0.9 6.4 0.5

You don't have to be spectacular to be consistent. Though it might've been the closest thing the Grizzlies had to a highlight acquisition last offseason, the draft-day swap that sent Darrell Arthur and the rights to 55th pick Joffrey Lauvergne to the Denver Nuggets for Kosta Koufos didn't exactly produce a lot of fanfare. That's fine. The Grizzlies' "big move" didn't feature a star, but they made a good trade for a good player who was good in his first season wearing navy blue.

Kosta Koufos played the second-most games this season of any Grizzly (80, behind Mike Miller's still-surprising 82), and though his 16.9-minute per game average speaks to his role in relief, he did his job well. His production rarely wowed, but it was always there for the Grizzlies.

If there was one area where Koufos was spectacular, it was in the most unspectacular areas of the game. When it came to gritty things like rebounding and protecting the paint, few players were as reliable as Koufos. He had a total rebounding percentage of 18.4% (19th in the league), an offensive rebounding percentage of 14.0% (6th), a block percentage of 4.4% (21st), and according to the SportVU player tracking cameras, forced a 46.9% opponent field goal percentage at the rim on defense which ranked third on the Grizzlies.

At 7'0" and 265 lbs with a good understanding of his own positioning to boot, Koufos is well built to play the role of enforcer. He's pretty sturdy in the lane and doesn't get pushed around easily, which is a boon to his defensive and rebounding capabilities. How many times have we seen Koufos absolutely stonewall a player trying to get to the rim? The Grizzlies already have a beefy big man starting at center in Marc Gasol, and having Koufos as an option off the bench means the rich get richer.

From the eye test, it was obvious that Koufos was a helpful role player, but rebounding and interior defense aren't exactly glamorous. I don't think he was underappreciated per se, but he wasn't one of the hot topic players that people discussed often. Maybe, as consistently solid as he was, there was just nothing to talk about. Koufos wasn't amazing anyone, but he wasn't drawing ire either.

There might only be one thing to complain about, and I touched on it earlier in the season: Koufos' field goal percentage dropped nearly 10% from last season. It was a two-part problem – Koufos has major issues with finishing through contact, and he also went from the George Karl-era Denver Nuggets offense to the Grizzlies. Karl was somewhat unorthodox in how he used Koufos, and hid him out of bounds to free up space in the paint. That gave him opportunities where his defender helped off him, and he was open to float in a shot from five feet out. In the Grizzlies' post-oriented grind-it-out offense, Koufos was instead taking more shots where he had to try and finish through or over a defender. He's got good touch on hook shots, but for whatever reason, contact just completely throws him off.

In the grand scheme of things, that's fine. The offense isn't treating Koufos like he's Zach Randolph and running the offense through him in the low post. He's still shooting about 50%, which is perfectly fine. Most of Koufos' shots come from lurking around the paint and waiting for his defender to help away on, say, Mike Conley's dribble penetration or Zach Randolph's post-ups. Those are good shots. A miss or two per game because Koufos isn't Dwight Howard in the post (dawg) isn't killing anyone.

When Marc went down with the sprained MCL in the beginning of the season (/shudders), Koufos was the one that Dave Joerger called upon to fill in as the starter. His minutes ticked up to 24.2 per game in 22 starts, and for the most part, his per-minute production remained similar in a bigger role. His field goal percentage went down a bit as a starter, but that seems context-dependent-y. The Grizz were awful in November and December when Marc was out (/shudders), and the Courtney Lee trade hadn't happened yet either.

Independent of the rest of the team, Koufos was perfectly fine in the starting lineup. He definitely didn't duplicate Marc's production, but there's a reason why Marc is the one getting paid the big bucks. Koufos is "only" solid, but likely solid enough to be a starter on another team that had their $14 million star player at a position other than center. That's what he showed us in those months.

Being paid $3 million in 2013-14, and due another $3 million in 2014-15 before his contract expires, Koufos is a nice cost-per-production play to have on the bench. The frontcourt could see some upheaval this offseason with Zach Randolph and Ed Davis both potentially leaving in free agency, but Koufos will remain for at least one more season as a fixture in the Grizzlies lineup. Darrell Arthur is stinking it up in Denver with the 15th-worst True Shooting Percentage in the league (45.9%) and all but guaranteed to exercise his $3.5 million player option next season.

Sorry, Denver! Looks like you guys got the bad player in last year's deal.

Category grades

  • Offense: B-
  • Defense: A-
  • Intangibles: B+
  • Final Grade: B+

    Also while we're here, congratulations to Kosta and his significant other, Leia Sergakis, for making it official! After all they showed to us here at GBB in the last year (seriously: onetwo and three), we couldn't be more happy for these guys. GBB gets an invite to the wedding, right?!