Toronto Raptors: Three ways Marc Gasol will make an impact

Toronto Raptors - Marc Gasol (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Marc Gasol (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors acquired former All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol at the trade deadline.  After playing three games with the team, here are three ways he’s made an impact so far.

When the Toronto Raptors moved Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright and C.J. Miles to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Marc Gasol earlier this month, the trade was met with mixed reaction.

The Raptors already have two excellent frontcourt players in Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka, so it was unclear how and when Gasol would be used.  After three games, Gasol has undoubtedly made a positive impact – helping the Raptors win all three contests.


As a former Defensive Player of the Year, Marc Gasol brings a lot of defensive experience to the Raptors, although he’s long past his prime.

Savviness, however, isn’t something you lose with age, and he remains one of the best post defenders in the league.

When Jonas Valanciunas was sidelined with a hand injury earlier this year, the Raptors struggled against teams with skilled seven footers because it was often left to Serge Ibaka to defend them.

He’s only 6’10, and even though he’s an elite post defender himself, he would often be punished inside and shot-over outside.

Valanciunas, to his credit, has come a long way on the defensive end over the past few years, but he was still a liability in the pick-and-roll and on the block, so flipping him for Marc Gasol was a wise move.

What Gasol has lost in athleticism, he makes up for with smarts and understanding. In the Raptors’ last game before the All-Star break, they played the Washington Wizards.  Gasol had a crunch-time block against Bradley Beal that would have almost certainly been called a foul if it had been Valanciunas doing the same thing.  As a veteran and former All-NBA defender, Gasol is granted a certain amount of respect and leeway by referees that will be important in the playoffs.


Marc Gasol’s passing will impact the Raptors more than any of the other skills he brings to the table.

Elite passing out of the frontcourt is something the Raptors have never had in the Kyle Lowry era.  Gasol has been one of the best passing big men in the league for much of the past decade, and it gives the Raptors an entirely new offensive dimension.

The Raptors have done a lot to rehabilitate their image as a team that moves the ball over the past two seasons, and adding Marc Gasol seems like the final step in that direction.

The Raptors suffered playoff defeats under Dwane Casey because of their refusal to share the ball, but Marc Gasol ensures that won’t happen again this year.

If a play falls apart, the option to get the ball to Gasol on the block or the elbow will always be available, and he will make the right pass late in the shot clock as he has for his entire career.

Gasol’s elite passing is already on display after only three games with the team, and once he’s had a couple of months to understand the Raptors’ offensive sets and teammate tendencies, he will be deadly.

Players like OG Anunoby and Norman Powell thrive when Kyle Lowry finds them cutting to the basket, and Gasol can make those passes too.  Don’t be surprised if those two, along with other second unit players who struggle to create their own shot, see an uptick in production as a result of Gasol’s vision.

Great passers make life easier for everyone one else on the team, and with Gasol able to initiate offense, Kyle Lowry can play off the ball when he’s having good shooting nights.

Most importantly, the more versatile the Raptors offense is, the easier it is for Kawhi Leonard to work his magic.


Marc Gasol spent his entire career in the Western Conference prior to this trade, playing against elite big-men like Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki, Hall-of-Famers like Kobe Bryant, and dynastic super-teams like the Golden State Warriors.  At 34, he’s pretty much seen it all.

In 2011 (his first ever NBA playoff appearance), Gasol and the #8 seed Grizzlies beat the #1 seed San Antonio Spurs in the first round, in one of the most shocking playoff upsets in NBA history.
The went on to push the Oklahoma City Thunder to seven games in the Conference Semi-Finals.

Two years later, the Grizzlies made the Western Conference Finals, eliminating the LA Clippers and Thunder on the way there.  Every playoff push made by the Grizzlies was centered around Gasol as their defensive anchor and offensive low-post weapon.

Gasol worked extremely well alongside Zach Randolph, meaning he can play with a traditional power forward next to him like Serge Ibaka if Nick Nurse ever wanted to experiment with a big lineup.

He’s also shown after three games that he can seamlessly move in next to Pascal Siakam – since he can play both inside and out.

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Gasol has proven over the years that he is a winner and a team player.  Masai Ujiri knew this when he traded for him, and even though his best years are behind him, Gasol’s experience will help the Raptors immensely down the stretch of the season and in the playoffs.