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What does Gasol's return mean for Thabeet?

Mar 27, 2010, 8:14 PM EDT

Our Race to the Playoffs tell you that the Grizzlies still have an outside shot at the playoffs. If they’re going to keep that hope alive, they’ll need Marc Gasol who has missed five games with a partially torn neck muscle.

Luckily, the normally iron-clad Gasol is making a fast comeback. Even with the torn muscle, Gasol will play Sunday at Milwaukee, via the Memphis Commercial Appeal. These five games were the first games Gasol has missed in his two year career, and the effect has been noticeable. While Zach Randolph is often credited with Memphis’ turnaround alongside O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay, Gasol has been pivotal for what the Grizzlies do well. He’s a beast on the boards, able to run the pinch post high, a terrific passer, has better offensive abilities than he uses most times.

The question will be what happens to Hasheem Thabeet, who has played surprisingly well since a ten day trip to the D-League. Thabeet has shown the ability to convert at the rim, rebound, block shots, and have a sense of awareness at both ends. Which is a huge improvement from earlier in the season, when he couldn’t really do any of that.

The Grizzlies need to determine where Thabeet fits in their future. Gasol fits incredibly well in the system. The problem is that you don’t pay #2 overall picks to come off the bench. Even if the Grizzlies are devoted to Thabeet long-term, in order to get him the time he requires, he needs to play. And the Randolph-Gasol combo seems too good to break up.

Which leads to discussions like those going on at Grizzlies blog Straight Outta Vancouver over trading Thabeet. Trading Thabeet with the potential he’s shown might help the Grizzlies improve at one of their weakspots, like point guard. But giving up on him is a risk in and of itself. It’s quite a corner the Grizzlies have painted themselves into, but at least having two capable centers with upside is a problem a lot of teams would like to have.

  1. Abhishek D.V. - Mar 28, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    Yep, Straight Outta Vancouver mentioning that Jose Calderon’s defense is above average lends them a whole lotta credibility.

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