Jan 2, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Kosta Koufos (41) dribbles the ball up the court against the Phoenix Suns in the first half at US Airways Center. The Grizzlies won 99-91. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Can Kosta Koufos take his game to the next level?

Is Kosta Koufos a full-time backup?

Kosta Koufos is currently the only backup center on the Grizzlies’ roster.  That being the case, is he ready to take on the full-time role backing up Marc Gasol?

Koufos certainly was capable last year, and he showed that he can provide some minutes off the bench.  Although, he only averaged 16.9 minutes per game last season, and that included when Marc Gasol went down with his injury.

So can Koufos take on more minutes and elevate his game to the next level?  The short answer is yes.

Jan 15, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Kosta Koufos (41) during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Memphis won 82-77.Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The season prior to joining the Grizzlies, Koufos played with the Denver Nuggets, where he averaged 8 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 22.4 minutes per game.  Those are pretty solid stats for a guy off the bench, especially when you consider that he also shot 58.1% from the field.

We did see Kosta take a step back last season, as his numbers dropped across the board.  As his minutes declined, his stats obviously would as well, but the fact that his field goal percentage dropped to 49.5% is a bit concerning.  Being able to shoot the ball consistently well is going to be key for Koufos when he’s coming off of the bench to relieve Marc Gasol.

As far as defense goes, Koufos is a solid defender.  He takes up space in the paint, and is a pretty good shot blocker as well.  He isn’t exceptionally quick by any means, but he’s more of a bruiser, which fits in with the Grizzlies’ style of play.

So what does Koufos need to do in order to take his game to the next level?

It will start with being able to take on more minutes.  Koufos will have to up his endurance to the point where he can take on 20 plus minutes per game, and be able to give 100% the whole time.  If the second unit gets sluggish, that could put the Grizzlies in a hole that might be insurmountable.

The other thing that he will need to do is fix his field goal percentage.  Anything below 50% for a center playing around the rim isn’t very good.  If Koufos can get back into the 55% or higher range that he used to be, then that would be a great boon for the Grizzlies’ bench.  Shooting efficiency off the bench is key.

Kosta Koufos is certainly capable of being the full-time backup to Marc Gasol.  There are a few tweaks that he will need to make to his game, but overall the Grizzlies should be in good hands.  Look for Koufos to make improvements this year as Memphis continues to climb to the top of the Western Conference.


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