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Marc Gasol named first All-Star starter in Memphis Grizzlies franchise history

Marc Gasol is having the best season in his career, and NBA fans and analysts alike have finally taken notice. The news broke Thursday that Gasol would be selected for the 2015 NBA All-Star game. For the first time in Grizzlies' history, a Memphis player will be in the starting lineup.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The 14-15 season for the Memphis Grizzlies has already been a memorable one. The Grizzlies made a spectacular comeback against the Sacramento Kings and won the game in dramatic fashion. The Bears of Beale Street beat the San Antonio Spurs in perhaps the best game of this season so far in triple overtime. But coming into this season, Memphis fans already had high expectations. Talk of Marc Gasol's physical transformation made its way around the league, and everyone waited anxiously for opening night to see this new-and-improved Big Spain. Well, they weren't disappointed, as Gasol scored a career-high 32 points that night:

Perhaps one of the most controversial trades in Grizzlies history, the exchange of the Gasol brothers has seemed to swing in Memphis' favor as we are finally seeing Marc's full potential: fantastic shooting, hard-nose defending, acrobatic passing, and an aggressive persona. Marc and Pau will both be in this year's All-Star game, but they will be playing for opposing conferences.

After the Grizzlies' historic start and Marc Gasol's obvious statistical surge, fans and analysts alike even began putting Marc in the MVP conversation. His presence significantly impacts the Grizzlies' defense and offense. He not only can score and defend against the league's best, but he is also an incredible passer. And while it seems like players like Steph Curry and James Harden might have the edge over Gasol in the MVP category, there has been little doubt that Marc would be at least named an All-Star if he continued to perform at this high level.

...And he has:

He's pulling off highlight-worthy plays almost every night, and I think everyone will admit that Gasol is a very special player. We've never seen any center like him. He's one of the most versatile players in the NBA.

If you turn to his career stats, there's no doubt that this is Big Spain's best season of his career:

Leading his team in scoring, Marc is averaging just over 19 PPG while still shooting a very efficient 50% from the field. And even though Gasol has been much more willing to score this season rather than pass to a teammate (which Grizzlies fans have been begging him to do for years), he's still managing to average a career high in assists (3.7 per game). In comparison to his All-Star season in 2011-12, he's averaging 4.6 more points. In fact, he's had four 30 point games this season. From the line, he's also shooting 5.5% better than he was in 2011-2012 (80.3% compared to 74.8%). His PER is a team-high 22.51, which has to make John Hollinger smile.

Whether it be a free throw jumper or two handed jam, Gasol can put the ball in the hoop. He's the most versatile big man in the game, as his shooting range extends almost all over the floor. Now, his pick and roll offense with Mike Conley is a thing of beauty. But his talents don't stop there. On the defensive end, he still makes a huge impact. His new physique enables him to run faster, jump higher, and dunk harder. Besides averaging 1.7 blocks, Gasol is still the anchor for the Grizzlies' defense:

Perhaps the most unique and amusing part of Big Spain's game is his otherworldly passing. Whether it's a quarterback-esque, down-the-court pass on a fast break or a no-look pass behind the back, Gasol can do it all:

There's no doubt about it: Marc Gasol is an absolute beast:

We can point to his visible weight loss, his sudden aggressiveness on the offensive side of the floor, and the fact that this is a contract year for Big Spain. Whatever is the case, Marc Gasol is taking the NBA world by storm because he is finally reaching the potential that Grizzlies fans have dreamed about for several years now. Besides having an overall fantastic year, Marc Gasol is making Grizzlies history. He's a MVP caliber player, he deserves to be on this All-Star team, and Gasol definitely deserves the attention and honor that comes with starting for the Western Conference.

And it's no surprise to Grizzlies fans that he will be taking a trip to New York, because even before the season started, we all knew Gasol was going to have a special year. And he isn't letting us down.