Have the Toronto Raptors done enough to make the finals?

Toronto Raptors - Marc Gasol (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Marc Gasol (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Jeremy Lin and Marc Gasol (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Case For: More than Just a Locker Room Presence

Despite having personalities that seem to be more oriented to a culture of winning team basketball, the Raptors’ new additions also have the skills to contribute on the court as well. Gasol averaged 15.7 points per game, alongside 8.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists in Memphis. Furthermore, as a defensive-minded big, he also averages more than one block and steal per game.

Since Marc Gasol has always been a humble giant on and off the court, people forget he was a former Defensive Player of the Year with multiple All-NBA team nods. Although Gasol has grown comfortable playing in Memphis’ system, it is also important to recognize that Gasol has also seen 6 coaching changes during his decade-long tenure in Memphis, meaning that he may be able to adjust accordingly and quickly to the Raptors’ system.

In just three games, Gasol has already shown how he can radically change the genetic makeup of the Raptors’ offence going forward. As one of the more gifted passing big men in the game, Raptors are able to run plays through him, taking the heavy playmaking load off Lowry.

After entering into the league as a more traditional big man, Gasol’s game has also evolved to match the needs of the modern NBA. He is the perfect center to help spread the floor for the Raptors, as he has incorporated a three-point shot into his game.

Averaging over four attempts a game on 34 percent shooting, he can help draw opposing big men out of the paint, which will be reassuring for players like Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, and now Jeremy Lin, whom all have a tendency for slashing to the rim.

Despite playing in a dysfunctional offense, Lin was very productive during his time in Atlanta. With averages of  19.6 points and 6.5 assists per-36 minutes, he can still be a major difference maker while Fred VanVleet is out and when Lowry sits.

More importantly, for both Gasol and Lin, this is the first time that either are having an opportunity to play for a legitimate contender. During the “Grit and Grind” era of Grizzlies basketball, the team was only able to make it to the conference finals once and were unceremoniously swept by the Spurs there.

For Lin, who has bounced from team to team over his 9-year career, he has only made the playoffs on three occasions.

Hopefully, playing for a contender will invigorate both players. With fewer minutes and more on the line during those minutes, Toronto should receive the best versions of Marc Gasol and Jeremy Lin.