Apr 26, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies fans hold up towels and signs during game four of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder at FedExForum. Thunder defeated the Grizzlies 92-89. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis Grizzlies v. The FIBA World Cup

The 2014 FIBA World Cup represents a huge event for everyone in the basketball world. Naturally, it seems a bigger deal everywhere else outside of the United States. With the NBA being regarded as the highest and most competitive league in the world, NBA players tend to favor team activities, NBA seasons and accomplishments over the international competitions.

Not that it’s right, it’s just the way it is.

On the other hand, teams tend to be skeptical about the idea of their players logging some hard-working minutes during the summer instead of resting up and regrouping their bodies for the grind of the upcoming NBA season. Of course, this is a subject that mostly affects teams with international diversity in their rotations, or teams that have their core built around an international player. Teams like the Memphis Grizzlies.

You may be wondering, why would an international tournament during the NBA offseason would jeopardize a team’s shot at contention?

The NBA season consists of 82 games of jumping and running. You have to travel. If you take a look at the minutes per season these guys subject their bodies to you’d get a better idea. As a matter of fact, the NBA’s arguably the fastest major sport, not only in the United States but in the world.

(Note: A TV network in Mexico used to call the NBA “Ráfaga NBA”. Ráfaga means burst. Burst’s synonym? Rush. Rush NBA.)

Imagine you’re LeBron James and you’ve averaged 37.9 minutes per game for 100+ games per season for the past four seasons. That’s 185 FULL NBA games in four years, 3.85 seasons playing 48 minutes per game per 82 games. Throw London’s 2012 Olympics in the mix too and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Let that information sink in for a minute and then go back to the 2014 NBA Finals Game 2 or “The Cramp Game”. It all makes sense now doesn’t it?

(Note: Not everyone has gone the distance that James has gone in the past four seasons. Not anyone on the Grizzlies’ roster, at least. In fact, only Bill Russell‘s Boston Celtics, Magic Johnson‘s Los Angeles Lakers and Larry Bird‘s Celtics have felt a similar toll on their bodies.)

What does this have to do with the Grizzlies?

Marc Gasol‘s minutes. Marc Gasol is a 7’1″, 265 pound big guy that has averaged 34.2 minutes per game. Big guys’ knees and the NBA are not the greatest of friends.

Here are the last four Grizzlies’ seasons back to 2010:

  • 2010 – 11: Lost West Semis vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (4-3). 95 games.
  • 2011 – 12: Lost First Round vs. Los Angeles Clippers (4-3). 89 games.
  • 2012 – 13: Lost West Finals vs. San Antonio Spurs (4-0). 97 games.
  • 2013 – 14: Lost First Round vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (4-3). 89 games.

Marc Gasol has played 370 NBA games in the past four years. By averaging 34.2 minutes per game in the past four seasons, his legs have taken the toll of 3.21 seasons playing 48 minutes per game. Throw in London’s 2012 Olympics and Spain’s 2014 FIBA World Cup and you’ve got the same, or an even worse recipe for disaster than with LeBron James.

The Grizzlies should take care of their big man. Marc Gasol might not be the greatest energy guy on the team since they’ve got Zach Randolph, but he is their core and the center of their “grit-n-grind” philosophy. It would be a devastating blow for the Grizzlies’ chances at contention to lose him because of fatigue or worse.

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Tags: Fiba World Cup Marc Gasol Memphis Grizzlies NBA

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