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In many ways, Marc Gasol had the best season of his career. Besides averaging a career high in PPG and assists per game, Gasol earned a spot on the All-Star reserves. Also, he had six games with 30+ points. Arguably, this year was his best ever, especially out the starting gate.
However, as the year progressed and the playoffs drew near, his numbers slowly dropped. In the month of March and April, he averaged under 16 PPG, versus the months of December, January, and February, in which he averaged over 20 PPG. One of the biggest storylines for Gasol this year was his development of his three point shot. There had been talk of him practicing it before the season even started, and he made a career-high 104 three pointers on the year.
In the playoffs, Marc Gasol performed decently but failed to help carry Memphis in the last two games of the series, as he scored 17 points in Game 5 and 18 points in Game 6. To some, those sound like good numbers. At face value, they are. However, the Grizzlies needed Gasol to scored 25+ points in both those games to stand a chance, and so Marc didn’t step up to the plate in that regard.
Rather, it seemed like Gasol struggled down the stretch, and Mike Conley’s efforts weren’t enough for Memphis to secure enough wins in the series for the upset.
Undoubtedly, Marc Gasol’s best game was against Toronto in January. Thanks to him, Memphis secured a 101-99 victory against the Raptors in the FedExForum. Not only did Gasol rack up a career-high 42 points, he was also 5-10 from three point range and was 9-10 from the free throw line.
This performance was the epitome of what Marc Gasol could be on a regular basis. No, I don’t expect 42 points a night from Gasol. But this game was an example of how Marc performs when he makes up his mind that he’s going to be aggressive on both ends of the floor. He now has the ability to shoot threes, which adds another facet to his game, and this performance back in January is a prime example of how that helps the Grizzlies tremendously on the offensive end. It not only helps put points on the board, but it also helps spread the floor for players like Mike Conley.
Things To Improve:
Marc Gasol simply needs to take over games more often and stop being so timid. Defenses fear him, and Marc doesn’t take advantage of that often enough. He’s a 7’ 1” center who can shoot threes and jumpers, as well as pound it on the inside. He’s solid on the defensive end of things, and he has the ability to take over on offense, especially down the stretch in big games.
The playoffs was a perfect example of Gasol’s plight. He’s settling for just decent numbers when the Grizzlies need him to dominate. In Games 5 and 6, his numbers definitely weren’t cringe-worthy...
But they weren’t representative of an All-Star.
Mike Conley had an incredible season, and he continued to in the playoffs, and it seemed Gasol deferred to him and others down the stretch in the postseason. Marc Gasol started off hot, but toward the tail-end of the season his stats declined slightly, and he failed to shine when Memphis needed him most. He needs to take more shots overall, and he needs to have more of an alpha-dog mentality on a consistent basis. If he can do those two things, as well as remain healthy, then Gasol can really reach his full potential.
2016-2017 Overall Grade:
As a whole, Marc Gasol had an improved season on many levels. Besides expanding his shooting range and averaging a career-high in points per game, he made the All-Star team this season, and came back at full health following his injury from the previous year.
In numerous ways, Gasol showed why he should be considered one of the top big men in the league. There were multiple games that fans watched Gasol take over and display dominance on both ends of the floor.
However, during the last couple months of the regular season, his stats started to dip, and he battled injury. His fading stats were eclipsed for a while as Mike Conley shouldered the load, and Marc sat on the sideline for a stretch due to injury. Then, the playoffs rolled around, and Marc Gasol had a fantastic first game of the series in San Antonio in a losing effort. After the Grizzlies had tied up the series, Gasol failed to dominate in Games 5 and 6. Marc had good numbers in those games, but they weren’t All-Star numbers that he needed to have for the Grizzlies to have success. In the end, it seems that the Grizzlies will go only as far as Marc will take them.