Marc Gasol, Center
2013-2014 Regular Season Statistics
Advanced Metrics- Offensive Rating 101.7, Defensive Rating 102.2, -.5 Net Rating. Usage Rate (Number of plays "used" per 40 PACE adjusted minutes)- 21.3, True Shooting Percentage (adjusting for value of FTs and 3PFGs)- 52.6%
2013-2014 Playoff Statistics
Advanced Metrics- Offensive Rating 98.4, Defensive Rating 107.3, -8.9 Net Rating. Usage Rate (Number of plays "used" per 40 PACE adjusted minutes)- 20.8, True Shooting Percentage (adjusting for value of FTs and 3PFGs)- 46.2%
Marc Gasol's 2013-2014 season was marred by adversity. It started out pretty well; in the first 13 games of the season "Big Spain" carried over his larger role in the Grizzlies offense, taking more than 2 shots more per game on average, still playing the facilitating role with more than 4 assists per game and hitting his free throws at an impressive 88.5% clip per game.
Defensively, he was the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and while he was not as dominant as he had been he was still the quarterback of the Grizzlies defense, calling out rotations and alignments. So much of the Grizzlies' offensive and defensive scheme relies on the versatile skill set of Marc Gasol. After a slow start, the Grizzlies swept a 4 game road trip in California and looked to possibly be back on track to a top 4 seed in the playoffs and another run at the Western Conference Finals.
Then, this happened...
An entire fan base shaken as a season appeared to go up in flames. How in the world would Memphis survive without Marc Gasol? Should the Grizzlies tank the season? Even with Kosta Koufos now in the fold, a more than capable back-up and short term fill in, being without Marc for an extended period of time would likely spell at best a .500 record, at worst a lost year in the Grit and Grind Era.
As usual in life, the answer fell somewhere in between. Memphis went 10-13 without Gasol, and after less than 8 weeks despite a serious Sprained MCL injury Marc came back against the Oklahoma City Thunder. A version of this video was shown before the game, detailing Marc's return.
As Memphis got used to having their cornerstone back in the lineup, the wins began to pile up for the Grizzlies. As was detailed on this very site by our own Managing Editor Chris Faulkner the Grizzlies defense improved drastically with Marc Gasol back on the court. The offense was able to get back to its elbow and pick-and-roll goodness with Wendigo in the fold, Gasol helped facilitate for his teammates and the Grizzlies began to reel off wins.
This was necessary, it would turn out, in the unbelievably competitive Western Conference. The Grizzlies were 17-19 heading into that game against the Thunder where Marc came back. From that game (which they won 90-87) on, the Grizzlies went 33-13 and made it from the basement of the Western Conference to the 7 seed, passing several teams along the way, including the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks in two extremely competitive and exciting games to end the season. Gasol was huge in April in particular, averaging 18 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists on 54.1% shooting. Wendigo was alive and well, and the Grizzlies were back in the postseason for the fourth straight season.
Then came the playoffs. The OKC bigs made life miserable for Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol both, and "Big Spain" saw his minutes go up and his scoring efficiency go down. Marc played almost 43 minutes a game against Oklahoma City, a bit surprising considering his injury and conditioning struggles. This showed as he settled for passing to others when he should have been the aggressor and in ever frustrating fade away shots from the 7'1" Spaniard. Marc needed to be "the man" more consistently, and much like Mike Conley his struggles were a major reason the Grizzlies fell in 7 games to the Thunder.
So, it makes sense that as Marc Gasol goes, so goes the Grizzlies. An area of reinforcement and refinement moving forward for Marc.
Reinforcement- Continue to be Versatile
No Center in the entire NBA has the extensive tools at their disposal offensively that Marc Gasol does. Joakim Noah can pass, Dwight Howard can use his athleticism and explosiveness to score the basketball. Marc Gasol is unique in that he can create for his teammates and score the ball in a variety of ways. Here is Marc's 2013-2014 shot chart on the left, compared to his 2012-2013 one on the right.
Marc played in 21 less regular season games this year as compared to last, and it shows in the less overall shots taken. He finished better in the paint, but his numbers fell in several areas around the outside the lane. This can be for a variety of reasons; teams honoring Gasol's mid-range ability more, more high-low sets with Zach in the high post and the better spacing with shooters on the perimeter opening up space for Marc down low.
Despite the drops in some percentages, where he was shooting is most interesting. Combining the two seasons, Marc took 50 or more shots in 11 of the 18 shooting areas above inside the 3 point line. Compare this with other great Centers Joakim Noah (3) and Dwight Howard (2), and you see the skill set that a player like Gasol provides. Having to be conscious of a Center who can shoot from so many areas on the floor creates headaches for opposing coaches no doubt, and it should continue moving forward.
Refinement- Add More Versatility to the Post Arsenal
Marc Gasol's diversity in offensive skill is unparalleled. His diversity in post moves, however, leaves something to be desired. Every once and a while he shows the nifty footwork that the highlights above display, where he pump fakes and drop steps and makes opposing defenders look silly. Far too often, he depends on the tried and true fade away, or the running hook shot. Predictability is not the friend of a player with Marc's unique skills. If an opposing defender is prepared, he can easily take away those shots and make life more difficult for "Big Spain" than it should be.
There is so much more that Marc can do in the low post. Hopefully he continues to showcase that.
Three Thoughts Before the Final Grade
Marc's conditioning and durability continues to be a focus of fans, and deservedly so. Even though Gasol played about 43 minutes per game in the playoffs, no one would say they were a fully energized and full speed 43 minutes. Especially for someone who has had injury issues over the past 2 seasons, his desire to play for Spain in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain this Summer is a bit concerning as well. Marc is not getting any younger, and in order to maximize his window for success hopefully he continues to find ways to rest and be in top physical shape.
- Gasol was naturally going to fall off some from his great DPOY season of a year ago, but his defensive efficiency rating and overall +/- numbers fell a good bit. Marc's season +/- was +5.4 in 2012-2013 and this year is fell to only +.2. Defensive efficiency wise, in 2012-2013 Marc has a 95.4 number and net rating of +7.4 when compared to his offensive efficiency. This past season Marc skyrocketed to a 102.2 defensive efficiency, and a -.5 net rating. Injuries all around the roster impacted this some certainly, but something to look into heading in to 2014-2015. While he is the most important director of the defense on the floor, he also needs to use his length to alter shots in the lane and be more of a factor individually more consistently. This defense will go as far as Gasol leads them.
- For someone with the size and strength of Marc Gasol, he sure does not grab that many rebounds. Over the past 2 seasons he has only grabbed about 13% of all rebounds available to him during his time on the court. For comparison's sake, Joakim Noah gathers 18% and Dwight Howard snags about 20% of the boards available. Marc has never been asked to be a dominant rebounder in Memphis' schemes though, especially with guys like Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos on the roster. The more he can attack the glass, especially if Z-Bo leaves Memphis in free agency, the better off Memphis will be in terms of controlling pace, limiting the opponent's scoring chances and increasing those of the Grizzlies.
- Growth in His Game- C
- Offensive Production- A-
- Defensive Impact- B+
- Leadership/Intangibles- B+
FINAL GRADE- B+
While Gasol certainly was tremendous this season defensively upon his return, analyzing film and the numbers shows that Marc was basically the same player this year that he was last. Same moves, same skill set, just in less games due to injury. That player is an excellent one, no doubt, and the fact he grades out as a B+ for me despite not really growing his game is indicative of that. In order to move back into All-NBA consideration, Marc will need to grow as a player, be in top physical condition and continue to expand his role scoring the ball. Marc Gasol is now the Grizzlies' franchise player; it is time to act like it.