Toronto Raptors: Marc Gasol has cemented his place in the Hall of Fame

Marc Gasol (Photo by Greg BAKER / AFP) (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Marc Gasol (Photo by Greg BAKER / AFP) (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images) /

The last three and a half months have been a wild ride for Marc Gasol. The Toronto Raptors and Spain center has now firmly cemented his place in the Hall of Fame.

First, he was an NBA Champion with the Toronto Raptors – winning he, and the Raptors first-ever NBA title. Now, three and a half months later, Marc Gasol has led the Spanish national team to victory in the FIBA World Cup, defeating Argentina 95-75. After such a trophy-laden season, it’s only fair to assume that Gasol has booked his place in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Gasol has always been considered one of the most entertaining big men of all-time. His passing and basketball IQ is on another level, especially considered to most centers in the game. Gasol has averaged 3.4 assists per game throughout his career but is often more than just the final assist man, providing countless hocket assists using his uncanny vision.

Before Gasol arrived in Toronto back in February, he was the face of the Memphis Grizzlies. He spent 11 successful seasons in Memphis but never experienced the thrill of winning an NBA championship – a feeling that not many players are accustomed to, in fairness.

The Memphis Grizzlies, led by Mike Conley and Gasol in their famous “Grit and Grind” era, had reasonable success, reaching the Western Conference Finals in the 2012-13 season before regular appearances to the postseason in the following five seasons.

Comparable to the Toronto Raptors in some way, the Grizzlies had constant regular-season success – posting seven successive winning seasons – without ever making the jump to true title contenders. As an aging team, their window was closing fast.

Gasol had more than just moderate team success during his 11 years in a Grizzlies uniform. He was a three-time NBA All-Star, a two-time All-NBA selection, as well as making the 2012-13 All-NBA Defensive First Team. More than that, Gasol was actually crowned the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for the same season.

Other than being an offensive playmaker, Gasol has proved to be a defensive stalwart. His ability to impact both ends of the court in a big way is rare for a center – a position that can sometimes be ignored, or considered as a specialist on just one end of the court.

When the game began to shift into a three-point centric style of play, a lot of centers were left behind; not Gasol. He adjusted his game, worked on adding a three-point shot to his repertoire and carried on being one of the best centers on the game.

His overall play had put him on the periphery of the Hall of Fame even before moving to Toronto, along with a pair of silver medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, held in Beijing and London, respectively.

To top it all off, Gasol had already won the FIBA World Cup with Spain back in 2006, when they beat Greece in the final. It’s a stacked trophy case, but it felt like Gasol still needed something to tip the scales in his favor.

There have been more talented and more successful players who have yet to have their names called to join the prestigious ranks of the Basketball Hall of Fame, or even just all-time great players like Chris Webber and Ben Wallace – one of the greatest defenders in basketball history.

By virtue of being traded to the Toronto Raptors, Gasol might have just done enough to secure his place in the Hall of Fame, following an incredible three and a half months. He moved to Toronto in the hope of pushing the Raptors over the edge by helping the most talented team in franchise history finally make it to their first-ever NBA Finals.

Which they did, going one step further and winning their first-ever NBA title – also Gasol’s first. That title pushed Gasol even closer to the Hall, as it should. A quality player now had the grandest prize in professional basketball to add to his ever-growing cabinet. During the Raptors title run, Gasol proved just how important he was to the team. He provided some watertight interior defense while still displaying an offensive skill-set that few could dream of – even if the numbers didn’t always back it up.

This summer was the icing on the cake of the most successful year in Gasol’s career, even at the age of 34. Gasol and the Spanish national team took the FIBA World Cup by storm, winning the final against the eventual runners up, Argentina. While he wasn’t the MVP – that accolade was presented to Ricky Rubio – he was, once again, a force averaging 14.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game.

The fact that Gasol was able to win an NBA title and a World Cup all in the space of three and a half months is mind-boggling. He became only the second player in history to accomplish that feat. The first?

Lamar Odom, in 2010.

If he was on the periphery before February, then the last few months have really cemented his place in history. Gasol has been a chameleon in the NBA, changing his form and style to become whatever his team needed him to be.

Next. Will Matt Thomas or Patrick McCaw earn the final rotation spot?. dark

The Hall of Fame should be reserved for only the greats – players who transcend the usual trajectory and success of the average NBA player. It’s hard to argue against Marc Gasol anymore, he’s a dual-champion and one of the best centers of all-time.