Dec 28, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies small forward Tayshaun Prince (21) , shooting guard Nick Calathes (12) and power forward Jon Leuer (30) on the bench against the Denver Nuggets during the fourth quarter at FedExForum. Memphis Grizzlies beat the Denver Nuggets 120-99. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Which Grizzlies' bench player will have to improve the most this season?

Grizzlies will need strong bench play in ’14-’15

The Grizzlies have kept the majority of their roster intact, but some notable subtractions include Mike Miller and Ed Davis.  The biggest off-season pickup for Memphis was easily Vince Carter, but grabbing Jordan Adams and Jarnell Stokes in the draft were good moves as well.  Overall, there hasn’t been much turnover, so who will have to step up their game to help elevate the Grizzlies to the next level?

Memphis is ridiculously deep at shooting guard as they have Tony Allen, Courtney Lee, Jordan Adams, Jamaal Franklin, and Vince Carter can play the two as well.  They also have three point guards on the roster, so they are deep there as well.  Small forward is a bit of a question mark, as an aging Tayshaun Prince is fading away from being a starting talent.  Vince Carter could start at SF if needed, and Quincy Pondexter is on the roster as well.  The Grizzlies could also make a trade to help shore up the three spot, but as of now it’s probably their shakiest position.

Then there’s the front court.  Up front the Grizzlies have Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Jon Leuer, Kosta Koufos, and Jarnell Stokes.  Gasol and Z-Bo are the clear starters, but how minutes are distributed from there is yet to be seen.  Randolph is aging, and thus he probably won’t be able to take on as many minutes as he used to.  This leaves Jon Leuer and Jarnell Stokes to fill the sub minutes at power forward.  Stokes is an unproven rookie, and it’s yet to see how much faith coach Dave Joerger will put in him.  This leaves Leuer, a seldom used backup who will have to pick up some extra minutes off the bench.  The ideal situation would be to get Stokes up to speed and give him some valuable minutes, but if not, Leuer is going to have to play a key role off the bench.

The other backup big man is Kosta Koufos, who is behind Marc Gasol on the depth chart at center.  Koufos had a solid season last year, but he only played 16.9 minutes per game.  However, it was only his first season with Memphis, and he is only 25 with room to improve.  It will be important for him to provide relief for Gasol off the bench, since it is going to be key to keep the big Spaniard fresh for the playoffs.

This upcoming season should be a very successful one for Memphis, and that can be assured with solid play off the bench.  The two players that will need to step up their game, initially at least, are probably Kosta Koufos and Jon Leuer.  If Stokes can transition into playing a vital role off the bench, then that would just be an added bonus.  Providing quality minutes off the bench will be essential for Memphis, who will want to have everyone healthy come playoff time.


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Tags: Jon Leuer Kosta Koufos Marc Gasol Memphis Grizzlies Zach Randolph

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