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Marc Gasol deserves to start in the All-Star Game

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Marc Gasol doesn’t just deserve to make the All-Star team this year. He deserves to start in it.

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Will Marc Gasol ever be the same after his foot injury?

Was 2015 the peak of Marc Gasol’s career?

Will Marc Gasol ever make the All-Star team again?

Coming into training camp, these were all questions that plague Memphis fans’ minds. In fact, probably the biggest question was this: “Is Marc Gasol 100%” healthy?”

While hearing Marc Gasol say that he was healthy was somewhat reassuring, fans and media alike wouldn’t truly believe it until they saw him playing on the court.

It’s no secret that past big men in the NBA have had difficulties coming back from foot injuries, in particular. In fact, it’s ended a few centers’ careers, such as Yao Ming. So that left everyone, fans and media alike, wondering if Big Spain would return the same as before. But even last season prior to his injury, he wasn’t performing the same way he had during his 2014-15 showing, in which he made the All-Star team as a starter.

Well to all those in question, Marc replied with a resounding answer. Instead of replying verbally, however, Gasol decided to let his actions do the talking:

Marc didn’t just return from injury the way he was before...He returned as the best version the Grizzlies could ask for. On the season, he’s averaging a career high in points, 19.8, and assists, 4.2. On offense, Marc is carrying more responsibility than he has ever had to before in his career, as he has a usage percentage of 26.8%, which is a career-high.

As a result, he’s taking more shots (16 per game), but despite this he boasts his lowest turnover percentage ever at 9.7%. His foot injury is now a thing of the past and hasn’t affected him in his performances this season. Marc has already had ten performances of scoring at least 25 points this season, and he’s had two showings of 30+ points (36 and 38).

But Marc Gasol has added yet another facet to his already impressive arsenal—he now can shoot threes consistently. He’s now considered a real threat to opponents from beyond the arc, as he’s 51-126 from three already this year. Nowadays, Gasol isn’t afraid to knock down the three, and this has added another layer to the Grizzlies’ offense. This has obviously created more spacing on Memphis’ offense, thus allowing places like Mike Conley more room to operate on the floor.

“Big Spain for three!” has become a more commonplace saying this season than I admittedly had ever expected it to be.

Yet, even with these extremely impressive stats, Marc Gasol still lags behind in the NBA All-Star voting...and one of the players ahead of him is someone you probably wouldn’t expect.

Zaza Pachulia of the Golden State Warriors sits ahead of Marc Gasol in the first returns for the All-Star voting by a large margin at 439,675 votes. Centers like Karl-Anthony Towns being in front of Marc Gasol, I can understand.

But Zaza Pachulia? Really, Georgia?

On the season, Zaza Pachulia is averaging an underwhelming 5.3 PPG, 5.7 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks. In my mind, those definitely aren’t All-Star numbers.

According to these first returns, Marc really needs to make some major headway in the coming weeks to catch up.

The sad thing is, if averaging the statistics I previously listed won’t earn Marc Gasol a starting spot or even possibly a trip to the All-Star game, what will?

Perhaps the All-Star game is really just a popularity contest, but it does mean something to the players. Impressive production like Marc Gasol’s shouldn’t be overlooked, just because he’s on a smaller-market team.

Marc’s teammate Mike Conley will have an even tougher road to make it to the All-Star game, but that’s another discussion entirely for another day.

To compare from Marc Gasol’s production the season he started in the All-Star game, this season he’s boasting an average of 2.4 more points per game and has clearly expanded his three point shooting (he only made 3 threes in the 2014-15 season). In addition, his offensive rating per 100 possessions is the same as it was two years ago at 111.

What I argue isn’t that Marc Gasol should just make the All-Star team...he should be starting in it.

To compare to the other centers listed on the ballot, Gasol is clearly leagues ahead of Pachulia in terms of stats. Although Karl-Anthony Towns is performing in some ways better than Gasol statistically, overall team success should be accounted for. The Minnesota Timberwolves are sitting at 11-26 on the season, while the Memphis Grizzlies have a 24-16 record.

Of course, with the NBA All-Star team eliminating a true center position for the voting, Marc is paired alongside power forwards as well in the frontcourt ballot. Like I already stated, he has a ways to go in order to attain a spot at the All-Star game. A player like Gasol playing at the caliber he’s currently playing definitely deserves a spot, and I believe he deserves to start.

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

So far, Marc Gasol is having the best season of his career, and he’s stayed healthy. Honestly, the Grizzlies couldn’t ask for much more from Big Spain. He’s playing aggressive, taking more shots, shooting threes consistently, and carrying more responsibility than ever before.

Will it be enough to get him to New Orleans for the All-Star game?

Will it be enough for him to earn a starting spot?

Time will tell. So fans, go vote. Vote daily, because Marc Gasol deserves a trip to the All-Star game in New Orleans.

Heck, he deserves to be starting in it.

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