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Memphis Grizzlies 2014-2015 Player Reviews: Kosta Koufos

As the Grizzlies' backup center, Kosta proved to be a great asset for the Memphis Grizzlies and provided meaningful minutes that will be surely missed if he decides to sign with another team this summer. For now, let's remember the year that was for Kosta Koufos.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Kosta Koufos' 2014-2015 season was possibly his last year with the Memphis Grizzlies as he'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. But the Grizzlies were able to enjoy his services this past year, and he didn't disappoint as a valuable bench player. This past season, the 7 foot center averaged 5.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He was extremely efficient as he shot 50.8% from the field. However, he was sub-par from the free throw line as he only shot 64.7% on the year.

Particularly, K2 showed that he was a capable, skilled defensive player. On the season, he had an impressive defensive rating of 94.8 points allowed per 100 possessions. Although he wasn't "Mr. Shot Blocker" as he didn't even average one block per game, he still played good one-on-one defense overall and protected the paint. Opponents shot 2.6% less than their normal average overall when guarded by Koufos, and players shot 8.5% less when they were shooting shots that were less than 6 feet from the basket.

Pre All-Star break, Koufos had a better offensive rating (100.8 compared to 96.2 post All-Star) but had a worse defensive rating (97.1 compared to 91.0 post All-Star). He received less playing time this season than the previous one because Marc Gasol stayed relatively healthy. But whenever his number was called, K2 was ready to play.

It's easy to discern from Koufos' shot chart that he particularly thrived around the rim and painted area:

And quite obviously, he didn't have a broad shooting range this season. He shot poorly and rarely from outside the paint. Oftentimes, he just wasn't aggressive enough on the offensive end and failed to use his size to his advantage. Although he lacked depth offensively, he still scored off of offensive rebounds and on deep post-ups against opponents. There were times he also wasn't given enough minutes to be effective. It felt as though sometimes Joerger could have deployed K2 longer in stretches of games but instead played him for short stretches or kept him on the bench. Many teams don't have a backup center like Koufos, so his size, skills, and experience provided some edge to the Grizzlies' bench.

We did get to see a few epic Kosta Koufos dunks this season:

Kosta's 2014-15 season differed statistically just slightly from his previous season, in which he started 22 games. Kosta stayed extremely healthy as he played 81 games this season and averaged 16.6 minutes per game. One of his best months of the regular season statistically was April (7 games). In this month he averaged 5.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and had a plus minus of 7.0. His season high in points was 16 points against San Antonio on December 17th.

On the negative side, his inability to knock down a small jumper or consistent hook shot hindered him offensively. However, compared to past seasons, this was one of Koufos' best aside from his 2012-13 season with the Denver Nuggets, in which he started 81 games and averaged 8 points and 6.9 rebounds. Koufos provided consistent energy and rebounding for the Grizzlies' second unit and helped solidify this team as one of the deepest in Grizzlies' history.

During the playoffs, his stats and playing time dipped. He averaged 3.4 points and 3.5 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game. In the Golden State series, he faced Marreese Speights, who gave the Warriors valuable bench minutes before going down due to an injury. Speights provided more spacing for the Warriors than Koufos did for the Grizzlies as he had a decent free throw line jumper that he was able to knock down from time to time. Koufos was not able to give Memphis any extra offensive punch during the playoffs, although he continued to be strong defensively. He had 6 blocks in 11 games. It would have been nice to see Koufos more in the playoffs and to have seen more scoring from him to compete with role players like Speights.

Memphis fans should hope Koufos stays, although that outcome seems somewhat unlikely. Because of Koufos' developed defensive skills and around-the-rim presence, many teams will attempt to lure Kosta with more money than the Grizzlies should realistically offer.

In this previous season, Memphis greatly appreciated the services of Kosta. If Koufos does decide to leave this summer for more money and more playing time, then Memphis will greatly miss a quality guy and a valuable player. Although he struggled at times offensively, his rebounding abilities, defensive skills, and paint presence proved his worth this year.