When the Toronto Raptors sent a decent trade haul for Marc Gasol, we knew we were getting the past his prime Gasol, and not the leaner first team all-NBA Gasol.
We’ve seen the buzz surrounding the Gasol weight loss, but what does it actually mean? Seeing Marc Gasol in this shape can’t help but remind me of his 2014-2015 season. The weight loss saw Gasol be much quicker, more switchable on defense and saw him contribute on offense so much more. All things the Toronto Raptors are not that familiar with.
But at the age of 35, what do we really expect from a slimmer Gasol.
Marc Gasol new expectations on offense
Marc Gasol has two clear tasks on offense already which are clear cut. One of them is being a distributor in the post, and the second one is stretching the floor. There are other things he can do such as setting picks but the two skills mentioned above are the ones exploited the most by coach Nick Nurse.
If needed, it wouldn’t be surprising to give Gasol a bigger offensive presence. Perhaps more post-ups and taking advantage of teams with no real center — Boston Celtics come to mind. But other than that, I still expect Nurse to use Gasol the same way as he was before with just slightly more plays for Gasol.
The one problem with Gasol’s weight loss
Traditional centers have become a thing of a past. The weight loss makes sense because most teams don’t run a traditional 5 as they used too. 5’s are usually stretch bigs, power forwards, or teams just plug in a tall guy who can shoot, all things that make Gasol’s weight loss a good thing. Switchability on to smaller and quicker guys is necessary for this day and age.
There is only one problem. Joel Embiid is still in the eastern conference. The only traditional dominant big that has an arsenal of post moves at his disposal. Gasol’s bulkiness is what kept him from doing so well against Embiid. Embiid couldn’t move him whatsoever in post-up situations, thus leading to a zero point night for the big fella.
It’s still possible that Gasol can fully hold his own if they matchup against the Sixers, I just think it’s much less likely. Embiid is the best post-up big in the last decade. This year alone, if Embiid is in a post up position, 76.3 percent of the time it has resulted in a point. No one even comes close to such a high conversion rate — the second closest is LaMarcus Aldridge at 58.8 percent, with the same number of posts up per game, 9.7.
So although I cannot wait to see a leaner Marc Gasol for the Toronto Raptors, I can wait to see it against the Philadelphia 76ers.