Marc Gasol is the only player on the Memphis Grizzlies roster to be on an All-Star team. He has been selected to three and started in one of them. He also has a Defensive Player of the Year award, a First Team All-NBA selection, and even 20 total votes in the NBA MVP award between the 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons.
He is pretty good, I’d say. Some would say the best center in the league, unless you’re partial to DeMarcus Cousins or Rudy Gobert.
He could go down as the best Grizzly of all time. Mike Conley may give him a run for his money, but let’s face it, in a general sense, we all love Marc.
But there are times through the season that fans question his leadership or focus. He pouts, sulks, and whines a little more than we would like our leader to do. So is he the Memphis leader? Or did we put that title and the pressure that comes with it on him involuntarily?
Marc Gasol’s points/rebounds/assists averages since the 2012-13 season are: 16.4/7.2/4.0. Those are stout numbers by all accounts for an NBA player. He has been the go-to for clutch shots in recent Grizz history (two of my favorites are below), and this year he blew all of our minds by making 104 three-pointers on 39% shooting.
The point is: we need him. And we need him at his best. But that doesn’t mean he has to be the team leader. That prestigious yet heavy title has apparently been bestowed upon Mr. Underrated, Mike Conley.
Based on Gasol’s personality and character that we have seen more vividly in the last two seasons specifically, Gasol doesn’t want the leadership role. He doesn’t have the thick skin, attitude, or the demeanor to lead a young team working through an identity crisis.
Mike Conley has shown that he knows how to motivate his teammates - he can go about his business day in and day out with no recognition, and he simply always says/does the right thing. That’s what this team needs in a leader. Gasol will now be the veteran on this team in terms of age, Mike Conley is in terms of NBA tenure. They are both highly paid contributors for the Grizzlies, but will now hold different roles.
Conley climbed the ranks of scoring options quickly last season, proving that the offense quite literally needed him in order to function at all. Gasol was the second option, perhaps even third if Zach Randolph was on the floor. And the Gasol option may fall even further this season. With Tyreke Evans a legitimate scoring threat off the dribble, and Chandler Parsons hopefully becoming a basketball player again, Gasol may allow for himself to fall to option four, depending on who is the "right play" in Marc’s eyes (when he is actually often the right play) and who is on the court.
Its hard to imagine the Grizzlies offense without Gasol involved somehow, but his five to six second occSional shotclock-eating post moves may not be the best use of the clock anymore. The Grizzlies have made a conscious effort to speed the tempo up, often opting for more quick and long range shots last season. And now the team has added younger, quicker talent.
So for Gasol to stay active in this offense his long range shooting becomes a priority and his passing could be the key difference. Hopefully the Grizzlies retain JaMychal Green who could benefit from the new fast tempo offense, but also directly from high-low basketball with Gasol.
Marc Gasol with the best putback in NBA History pic.twitter.com/kBhctAREic— Jamemes Harden (@HooperShooter) July 29, 2017
Gasol is a good enough player that he will still get his 15 points and 7 rebounds a game, but those points will be coming in different ways now. Memphis needs the threat of his three-pointer and rebounding, but it will interesting to see how his voice and demeanor will affect the team. Will he accept his role as a second or third option? Will he let his emotions get the best of him?
There are plenty of elements of this year’s Grizzlies to team that is still to be determined, even more so with the news breaking of Ben McLemore’s surgery, so only October will give us insight into what Grizzlies team will show up this season.
One thing is for certain, Marc Gasol will be an important part of the performance of the Memphis Grizzlies, one way or another.
All stats provided by Basketball-Reference.com.