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2015-2015 Memphis Grizzlies Player Previews: Marc Gasol

Last year Marc Gasol ascended into the stratosphere of NBA stardom. What does he do for an encore?

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So…how do I write a player preview of Marc Gasol without sounding like a school aged girl with a school yard crush, pulling petals off a flower and expressing how my love will last forever?

We love him…we love him a lot…we love him…we love him a lot.

You know what? It's hard not to appreciate what Marc has done in his time with the Memphis Grizzlies. The team has gone from zero post season wins to twenty-seven with a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Gasol became the team’s first NBA All Star starter and the center on the All-NBA first team. And this off-season he got paid, getting a five year/113 million dollar contract, without negotiating or even meeting with another team over the summer.

He has received devotion from fans, respect from basketball media, and dollars as the franchise player. What’s next for Marc Gasol this season?

WHAT HAPPENED LAST SEASON?

Um…he became the best center in basketball.

When did this happen? December 4th, 2014. My thirty-fourth birthday. The Grizzlies were an amazing 15-3 to start the season, and Marc was rooooooooolling. The offense was good and the defense was great as always. Marc was showing out regularly, as his usage rate was rising higher than any year previous. After the Summer of Marc in which he lost a bunch of weight and was set to become a beast, he became a beast.

WENDIGO DOES NOT NEED YOUR PLATITUDES, BLOGGER TYPE PERSON. WENDIGO EATS THE SOULS OF HIS ENEMIES. WENDIGO CRUSHES. WENDIGO DESTROYS. ALL SHALL ADMIRE AND DESPAIR AT THE WAKE OF WENDIGO’S DESTRUCTION.

Don’t believe me about Marc being the best center in basketball?? Take a look. ( All shot charts via NBAsavant.com)

Sure, Marc is not the rebounding/defensive machine that Dwight Howard was, but neither is Dwight. Injury has hampered Howard and seems to have skirted the center in Beale Street Blue (fingers crossed).

I had no idea that these two were even this close. The Kings have been so bad, but Boogie has been pretty good. At least until he makes the Boogie face…

Also similar players, but LMA likes to rest out on the corner (45% shooting!). I’d still rather have Gasol.

So if you are asking me (why wouldn’t you…I’m writing here), Gasol is the best big man in basketball. And he should stay that way…you know…until this happens.

Any day day now.

The Grizzlies parlayed Gasol’s success into a fifth seed in the highly competitive Western conference, eventually losing to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Some criticism has fallen on Gasol for his post-season performance, and some of that is warranted. His FG% went down nearly ten points from his season average of 49%. He was matched up against Draymond Green for most of that Warriors series, and that turned out to be a realllllllly bad matchup.

So the results on the court did not quite match up with the expectation of the season, but the Grizzlies also ran into a buzzsaw that is Golden State. With a different matchup, maybe the Grizzlies make the conference finals with Gasol leading the way.

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT GOING INTO THIS SEASON?

Gasol was great last season. He had career highs in PPG (17.4) and PER (21.4), and near career highs in field goal percentage, rebounds per game, and assists per game. His defensive stats were off from seasons past, mainly as a reaction to his uptick in offense. And if there is anything the Grizzlies need, it’s an uptick in offense.

So where does Marc Gasol go this season? He has had the physique change, gotten paid for a great career and a great contract season, and gotten accolades from the rest of the league. Is there any more in Marc Gasol’s growth, or have we witnessed peak Gasol already? He just turned thirty, which is getting to be peak age for a big man in the NBA.

There are two likely scenarios for Big Spain this season. The first is that the he continues his personal vendetta against the rest of the league who has disrespected his birthright to become the best big man in all of the NBA. Gasol raised his scoring average by three points per game last season. If he can do it again he will be a twenty point scorer and it will markedly improve the Grizzlies offense. One factor that may increase this possibility is that, while this is not Marc Gasol’s contract year, it is Mike Conley’s. And what better way to increase offense than to have a point guard who is already a perfect set up guy extra motivated for this season.

The second scenario is that maybe this is the year Gasol figures out how to balance his new scoring prowess with his Defensive Player of the Year skills from 2013. With the departure of Kosta Koufus, there will be a hole in rim protection for the Grizzlies this season. It would be nice for Gasol to take on this defensive role while continuing his all-out assault against defenses in the NBA.

Of course, the far more concerning scenario is that we have seen (past tense mind you) peak Gasol. What happens after a peak?

Let’s not go there. I’d rather picture Marc having another beast year.

THE WENDIGO WILL FEAST UPON ALL THE POINTS AND ALL THE REBOUNDS IN ALL THE WORLD. WENDIGO CARES NOT FOR YOUR PATHETIC CONCEPTS OF REGRESSION AND AGING. THE WENDIGO IS MANY MILLENIA OLD IN WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING WHILE PERFECTING THE CONCEPT OF DOMINANCE.

All hail Wendigo.