Toronto Raptors: Marc Gasol showcases different style in FIBA tournament

Toronto Raptors - Marc Gasol (Photo by Andy Wong - Pool/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Marc Gasol (Photo by Andy Wong - Pool/Getty Images) /

Marc Gasol is one of the key players on the Spanish international team. His playing style this tournament has been far different from what we saw with the Toronto Raptors.

Marc Gasol has evolved his game to fit the modern NBA. The once post-centric big man has stepped outside and started playing on the perimeter. Goodbye hook-shots, drop steps, and up-and-unders. Hello pick-and-pops, butt-screen hand-offs, and three-point bombs. The player the Toronto Raptors traded for doesn’t even resemble the Marc Gasol who was originally drafted — and no, not only because the weight loss.

But you never quite forget your first love, and Gasol’s first love was playing with his back to the basket. Now, in the FIBA Basketball World Cup, Marc is grabbing a cup of coffee reuniting with his highschool sweetheart.

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Gasol is perhaps the most important player on the Spanish National Team. He’s first on the team in minutes (27.4), points (11.3), and blocks (.7). And second in rebounds (5.2 – all defensive rebounds) and assists (3.7). He’s making an overall impact, just like he did for the Toronto Raptors, but he’s doing it an entirely different fashion.

For the Raptors, Gasol rarely looked for his own basket, particularly within the arc. He finished with just 2.5 two-point makes per game, less than half of fellow big men Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam. During the regular season, only 54-percent of his points came from two-point range. During the playoffs, that number dropped to 37-percent.

With the Raptors, Gasol was a cog in the machine. There were several more talented scorers, and even the scorers Gasol was better than, the margin wasn’t significant. As a result, Gasol stayed on the perimeter and did what was needed of him.

Spain, however, needs Marc to score. More specifically, they need him to do so within the arc.

That’s why Gasol is second on his team in scoring, just a few points behind fellow NBAer, Ricky Rubio. He’s first on the team in two-point makes (3.5), averaging an additional field goal per game than he did during the regular season and just under double what he did during the playoffs.

Watching Gasol play for the Spanish National Team, you can see him inside more than he ever was with the Raptors. He’s going back-to-back with hefty post players and seemingly loving every second of it.

Can any part of Gasol’s recent style of bruising opponents translate back to the NBA? It’s possible. With Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in Southern California, the Raptors need more shot creation than they did last year. Gasol scoring a few buckets on the low block might be one way to generate a few late looks in the possession.

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At the end of the day, Gasol moved out to the perimeter for a reason; against NBA opponents, that’s where he provides the most value. But watching him hang in the low post for Spain is a trip down memory lane. It’s fun to watch Marc showcase his other skillset.