General managers and franchises have to take risks all the time in the NBA. Drafting a player in the lottery, trading for a veteran player, or even signing a player off of waivers. They are all calculated gambles that teams have to take in order to be able to better their team throughout the years. Some bets on players pay off, but more times than not, they don’t.
What happens when those gambles don’t work? What does it do to the team when they are stuck paying a player that just isn’t very good or doesn’t adapt very well to life in the NBA? It can set a franchise back a number of years if they draft the wrong player or take a number one overall pick that doesn’t work out.
The Marc Gasol that we see today could very well never shown up. The former Defensive Player of the Year, the three-time All-Star, could have ended up just like most other second round picks, a journeyman in the NBA. When the Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol, what they thought they were getting was cap space and getting rid of a player that didn’t want to be here. Team executives from other teams and coaches around the league thought it was a bad trade for the Grizzlies. What the Grizzlies got instead was a franchise player that forever changed this team.
What IF everyone was right about the trade, that it was bad for the Grizzlies and they didn’t get anything in return for a star player? Marc Gasol has the most win shares in franchise history for the Grizzlies. A win share is a player statistic which attempts to divvy up credit for team success to each individual on the team.
Marc Gasol’s impact can easily be seen by removing his win shares from each year and the result’s speak for themselves. The Grizzlies make the playoffs just once, and never even win 50 games. Marc’s impact goes far beyond just his win shares- this doesn’t even take into account the winning culture that he has helped to cultivate in this city since he has been here. It doesn’t count the times that he has motivated other players, been a coach to young guys teaching them the right way to play basketball, or what he has given back to this city.
The Grizzlies got lucky that a second rounder actually turned into a good basketball player, and even luckier that Marc turned into a franchise cornerstone. Without Marc Gasol, this team is not even close to it’s current status as a perennial playoff team. There are no game winners against the Clippers, no triple overtime game against the Spurs because of a Gasol one footed three, no game winner against the Thunder because of a Gasol tip in, and definitely no upset of the Spurs in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.
When it comes time for the Grizzlies to put a statue of a player or retire a players number, Marc Gasol should be first one.