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Holy Mario Chalmers

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The newly acquired Grizzly made a huge impact against the Thunder.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

When the Mario Chalmers trade went down, the consensus was that this was probably a relatively lateral move in terms of talent, but Chalmers could, in theory, be a better fit for the Grizzlies than Beno Udrih.

I don't think any reasonable person accurately predicted this type of start to the Mario Chalmers in Memphis era because, really, there was no recent history that suggested Chamlers was going have the success he's had through three games with the Grizzlies.

Sure, he's a nice player. He played a role on two championship teams. He's hit some big shots in his career.

But he's been exactly what the Grizzlies needed.

"Bigger than you know," said head coach Dave Joerger when asked how big of an emotional impact Chamlers has made through three games.

Chalmers has averaged 18.7 points and hit seven threes in his three games since being acquired in a four-player swap with the Miami Heat.

Even to an untrained basketball eye, it's easy to see the impact Chalmers has made on the Grizzlies. He's scoring points and making threes, two things that often prove to be difficult for the Grizz, especially this season.

But his impact goes beyond just what you see when the ball leaves his hand after a shot.

"(Mario Chalmers) is going to help my game a lot," said Mike Conley, who finished with 22 points and nine assists in Monday night's 122-114 win against the Thunder. "Even for the few minutes we get to play together each game, I think we've really gotten to gel. I think we play well together. We're able to find each other. I'm not having to worry about bringing the ball up the court; I can just play basketball."

"It gives us a different dynamic."

Dating back to last season with Conley, Beno and Nick Calathes, Joerger has long loved two-point-guard lineups. And having a player like Chalmers, who's used to and comfortable playing on or off the ball from his days in Miami, gives him much more freedom and flexibility to use them.

"I'm very comfortable," said Chalmers when asked about his comfort level playing in a two-point-guard lineup. "Playing with guys like D-Wade and LeBron James, who always handle the ball, playing off the ball is something I'm used to."

Conley and Chalmers are both very comfortable and effective in spot-up situations. The duo has combined to go 16 for 27 from three since Chamlers' arrival.

Chalmers has also been terrific at attacking the basket, attempting 27 free throws in three games, and showing how well he operates as a pick-and-roll ball handler, something that should become even more evident once Brandan Wright, one of the best screen-and-roll players in the NBA, returns from injury.

On defense, Chalmers was a clear upgrade over Beno, and he's proved to be just that. He's athletic enough to stay in front of his man, and he's longer than most guys his size.

"Defensively, (Chalmers) gets his hands on a lot of balls, so he gets some extra possessions," said Joerger.

Naturally,  this level of play is unsustainable over the course of the season, but I do think that these first three games have raised the ceiling of what Chamlers' impact on this team can be. He's point guard who's started on championship teams, and now he's, seemingly, perfectly comfortable with coming off the bench and playing whatever role is asked of him.

If nothing else, this trade has been the jolt that both the Grizzlies and Chalmers, who underwhelmed in 2014-15 and was shooting sub-10 percent from three so far this season, needed to right their respective ships. One, a team who some had begun to write off as the end of the most successful era in franchise history. And the other, a player who many thought was simply a product of the superstar teammates he once had.

"He doesn't even know the plays yet," said Marc Gasol, who finished with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists. "Imagine when he learns the plays..."