Projecting Marc Gasol’s role with the Toronto Raptors

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /
2 of 4
Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Marc Gasol (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

What Gasol brings to the Raptors

Since the JV injury the Raptors have had a steady diet Serge Ibaka and Greg Monroe at center (minutes being limited to how well he plays that night) and thus far it’s performed adequately. But with the new acquisition of Gasol, the center minutes should quickly be fixed. Gasol has been a career center and has been a force in the league, averaging 15.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists throughout his career. Gasol hasn’t just been good offensively, he’s thrived on the defense earning All-Defensive and Defensive Player of the Year in 2012-13.

Gasol will certainly be an upgrade defensively in comparison to JV, even at the age of 34. But, it’s his offense that will be most intriguing for the Raptors. Before the 2016-17 season, Gasol did most of his scoring fighting his way through the paint, battling other big men for every inch. But, with the league changing and progressing towards a more three-point centric league Gasol learned to adapt. He, in turn, developed his shooting as to be more of a threat during the game, Gasol went from averaging 0.1 threes per contest in 2015-16 to 4.2 this year (he’s hitting them at 34-percent).

Gasol’s role with the Raptors will be revolved around the perimeter thanks to his ability to shoot the ball from distance, thus forcing opposing teams to have to guard him tightly. Opponents such as Joel Embiid, Al Horford and even the Milwaukee Bucks’ center Brook Lopez are going to have a hard time keeping the gap closed against Gasol. The new acquisition will help space out the floor in a way that JV was never able to.

Also on the tool belt is his ability to set up others. While in Memphis, Gasol was one of two main options of the Grit and Grind play style, although played at a slow pace Gasol still found the space to flourish into an excellent playmaker. Gasol’s greatest asset is his passing, as he’s been averaging 4.7 per game this season, but more specifically how great of an elbow passer he is.

As Micah suggests, Pascal Siakam should have a hell of a time playing along Gasol. Not only Siakam, but any of the athletic cutters such as Norman Powell, OG Anunoby or even Kawhi Leonard will be beneficiaries from a Gasol elbow pass on their way to the basket.