Toronto Raptors: Grading the Marc Gasol trade

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

What Gasol offers

The Raptors are excited to have Marc Gasol join the organization. At age 34, the Spaniard is having an excellent season. He has shown that he has a lot left in the tank, which is likely why the Raps were interested.

On the season, the 11-year veteran is averaging 15.7 points, 4.7 assists and 8.6 rebounds per contest. His assist totals are a career high. So too are his 7.5 defensive rebounds and 1.1 steals per game this season. Even with a bottom-dwelling Grizzlies team, Gasol performed extraordinarily well.

That is not unlike the rest of the big man’s career. He has been a consistent and reliable performer. He has given everything to the only professional team whose jersey he has ever donned. He leads the Grizz in franchise points, rebounds, blocks and made field goals. He is also a three-time all-star and the recipient of the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year Award.

He will bring all that experience and talent to Toronto to elevate his new team to another level. He is earning $24.1M in base salary and a $1.29M trade kicker this season. Gasol also has a player option next year for $25.6M.

This “win now” move for the Raptors is giving them a player with experience who can help mentor the younger members of the squad. He can show them how to play the right way, especially during meaningful games.

Gasol is a threat on both ends of the court. He will make good players take bad shots and pass off on semi-open looks. Standing 7’1″, he can go toe to toe with any of the other centers in the league and protect the rim. He will also rack up the points, especially if left unchecked.

Gasol is an excellent passer. In Memphis he was often found in the high post, giving him and his teammates myriad options. In his post-trade press conference, Ujiri praised Gasol’s elbow passing, which suggests that the Raptors may be looking to utilize the same style of play.

From the high post, Gasol opens up the floor. He is able to take a look for three, run a pick-and-roll, take a mid-range shot or cut to the basket. The choices are as plentiful as Nick Nurse’s imagination.

The scary part of Gasol’s game is how efficient he is at the things he does well. He is matching his career stats this season shooting from downtown. He is making 34% of his threes. This is excellent for a big man. His passing and vision are also elite. His season average of assists is second in the NBA for centers, behind only the Denver Nuggets’, Nikola Jokic.

The Raptors will now also have more flexibility with their lineup. Nurse can put either Serge Ibaka or Gasol in the team’s starting five-position. If it is Ibaka, that allows the “Big Burrito” to add energy to the bench unit, which has been much-needed in big games this season.

Ibaka can also slide over to the four, allowing the two of them to share the floor. This would bump Pascal Siakam to be the driver in the rotation. Nurse may use the rest of the season to experiment and find the recipe that works best for playoffs.