The duo of Kobe and Gasol has led the Lakers to three finals appearances in the last four years, winning back to back championships in 2009 and 2010. With Gasol, the Lakers have one of the biggest front courts of the league, being able to field three seven footers in Odom, Bynum and Gasol. Bynum’s creaky knees are also not as heavily relied upon.
For Memphis the trade hasn’t paid dividends until this year. The “throw-ins” from the trade have become valuable rotation players for this up and coming Grizzlies team.
Wallace has converted those two draft choices into Greivis Vasquez (the unlikely game four hero) and Darrell Arthur (their energizer bunny off the bench).
Then there’s the younger Gasol, Marc; through considerable off-season training, Marc shed 25-30 pounds while retaining his muscle to able to compete with the quicker posts in the NBA. All that work is finally paying off as Marc is quickly stepping out of his older brother’s shadow.
Marc and his low post partners Zach Randolph have become the low post tag team champions of the NBA: combining to score 50 points, corral 20 boards and shoot over 60 per cent in this year’s playoffs.
Of course the pieces from that trade are not the sole reason behind Memphis’ surprising success. Wallace courted defensive specialist Tony Allen from Boston in the off-season and acquired another defensive menace in Shane Battier before the trade deadline; adding them to the established core of players Wallace had drafted (OJ Mayo, Mike Conley Jr., Sam Young).
Interestingly, the Grizzlies only carved their identity when their star, Rudy Gay, went down with a season-ending shoulder injury. The Grizzlies playoff strategy was truly a manifestation of the slogans on the t-shirts they sell: “All heart. Grit. Grind.”
No one can question the Grizzlies’ heart and passion on the defensive end, anchored by Battier and Allen. And on offence, their approach is simple yet effective, dump the ball into Z-Bo or Marc and let them grind out two points.
Next: Turning the Tables