Toronto Raptors: Three Players who must step up in Orlando

The Toronto Raptors receive their 2019 Toronto Raptors Championship Rings (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Toronto Raptors receive their 2019 Toronto Raptors Championship Rings (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Center-Marc Gasol

Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Marc Gasol (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

Marc Gasol was a key factor in the Toronto Raptors 2019 run to the NBA Championship. He was acquired in a trade-deadline deal for former Raptors’ center Jonas Valanciunas in 2019. Gasol has seen better days with a scoring average of 13.6 points between Toronto and Memphis last season and is only averaging 7.6 points per game in 2020.

In helping the Raptors secure their first-ever Larry O’Brien trophy, Gasol excelled at the defensive end of the court shutting down the opposing centers like Nikola Vucevic and Joel Embiid. His passing is also outstanding for a big man and his touches around the basket create open shots for his teammates on the perimeter.

The trouble with Gasol is at the offensive end of the floor. It is great that the Raptors get scoring from multiple sources but their 14th place ranking offensively can be attributed to two key players’ lack of scoring.  Marc Gasol is one. It’s not that Gasol’s efficiency is below average, it’s that he doesn’t shoot enough.

Gasol averages 11.3 shot attempts per game for his career but just 6.6 this season. It has not helped that the 35-year-old center not only helped the Raptors win the NBA title but represented his nation of Spain in winning the FIBA World Cup of Basketball last summer as well.

This makes it hard to expand his offensive role on the Raptors when he has played just 36 gamers this season. It has meant the NBA veteran center who has played 27,555 minutes of regular-season NBA basketball had a short off-season. It translated into a sluggish start to this season and perhaps contributed to his injury trouble.

What is encouraging about Marc Gasol is that he used the COVID-19 break to not only rest and recuperate from a hamstring injury but transform his physique.

"“[Consistency] goes with training regimen, goals, sleeping habits, everything, Obviously when you’re at home, everything is a lot easier than when you’re on the road and traveling and trying to make everything work and winning games, which at the end of the day, that’s what you’re judged for.”"

Gasol also stated:

"“It was a frustrating season for me personally because I could never get a rhythm and help the team the way that I should be helping the team,”"

Provided Gasol can stay healthy, his dedication to his craft and his health is impressive and the Raptors need him to play at his best to be successful in the Orlando bubble.