by Will Overton
We posted our injury report yesterday discussing players going on the shelf and players coming off of it. As you could have almost guaranteed would happen, later the day that article was put up big time injury news broke. The Memphis Grizzlies announced yesterday that their franchise cornerstone and center Marc Gasol had broken his foot and would be out indefinitely.
There will be some trickle-down effect from this injury. We’re going to take a look at who is going to get the biggest bump from this injury, and whether or not there is a ready-made replacement at center for your fantasy team on the Grizzlies if you owned Gasol.
What we can do to start with is look at what happened Monday Night when the Grizzlies had to play three quarters of the game without Gasol. The Grizzlies relied on Zach Randolph to be their “center” while Matt Barnes and Jeff Green logged big minutes at forward.
This lineup construction makes sense as the most likely short term solution. The Grizzlies have been trying to go smaller more often, using Barnes and Green together a lot which has been cutting into Randolph’s minutes. At this point though I think we can safely assume that Randolph’s minutes are going to spike big time. The Grizzlies have no true center who is healthy and capable of playing big minutes, no offense Ryan Hollins. So Zach Randolph will have to make do and on Monday he came through with 26 points and nine rebounds.
It’s important to remember that not only is Gasol’s injury opening the door for more minutes, it’s also opening up a lot of offensive opportunities that had been going to Gasol, who was arguably the centerpiece of the Grizzlies offense. Randolph has lost a step, but he’s still skilled maneuvering around inside and can put points on the board. He’s also not afraid to take on the job of go to guy on offense.
I also think Green and Barnes are going straight to must own territory. I think we can expect to see both guys in the 30 – 35 MPG range for the forseeable future and both guys getting an uptick in offensive numbers and rebounding totals. Green has shown some real flashes working as the stretch four this season and being in that role more often should lead to good things. It’s always been his best fit on a team.
For deep leagues keep in mind JaMychal Green who is still raw, but has upside and will get minutes because there’s no one else. Green will probably be the first man off the bench and maybe even get some spot starts as they tinker to find the right combination. If Green can get to the 20 – 25 MPG range, he could be looking at something in the 7 PPG/6 RPG range which isn’t terrible for deep leagues.
If you need a center your best bet might be to take a look at Brandan Wright. For most of the season Wright has been sidelined with a knee injury of his own that required surgery. Wright is a more natural center than Randolph is and he offers a real defensive presence inside that Randolph doesn’t. There’s still no specific timetable for Wright’s return, but there are rumblings that he could be ready coming out of the all-star break. Grabbing Wright and hoping for a quick return may be the best move if you need a center to replace Gasol. If he becomes a starter he could be in line for something in the 12 PPG/8 RPG/2 BPG range.