A quick glance at the numbers and Marc Gasol had a fine 2017-2018 season. He had the 3rd highest points per game total of his career at 17.2. He also had his third best season rebounding the ball, hauling in 8.1 rebounds a game. However, it was Marc’s worst shooting season with a field goal percentage of 42%. Marc’s advanced numbers weren’t much better. Marc used to be able to carry the team in the absence of guys like Mike Conley and Zach Randolph. Without them last year, Marc sunk with the rest of the team. Many people are writing Marc off, but I think Big Spain is due for a bounce back season.
Over the course of the offseason the Memphis media hasn’t necessarily been super optimistic about Marc’s future with the team. GBB’s own Darren Jeans thinks it’s time to trade Marc. Parker Fleming highlights Gasol is running out of time. At 33 years old, Marc’s age may finally be taking a toll on his overall game. However, last year’s production could also be a result of who he was playing with in such a lost season.
Marc has always been a player who loves consistency and last year was the first season without Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, players who Marc knew very well and how they played on the court. Z-Bo and TA were replaced with guys like Ben McLemore, Jarell Martin and Deyonta Davis. All 3 of those players are low basketball IQ guys and are mainly in the league because of their athleticism. Going into next season, those 3 have been replaced by Kyle Anderson, Garrett Temple and Omri Casspi.
The Grizzlies have had a clear shift this offseason by signing high basketball IQ guys, and getting rid of players who don’t fit that mold. Considering Marc is widely considered one of the smartest basketball minds in the NBA, pairing him with other high IQ guys could do wonders to his production next season. With the 3 new guys, a healthy Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons, and young prospects who have potential to be high basketball IQ guys, this upcoming year could potentially be the best of Marc’s career.
Speaking of Mike Conley, a healthier version of Conley coming back next year alone will do wonders for Gasol. Last year, the Grizzlies didn’t really have a point guard who could run the pick and roll well with Gasol, let alone run it the way Conley and Gasol have for so many years. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol make each other better just by being on the court at the same time.
Defensively, the Grizzlies stand to be much better next season. A lineup of Conley-Temple-Anderson-JaMychal Green or Jaren Jackson Jr. along with Gasol will make scoring difficult for opposing teams. It will also allow Gasol to sit back more and play “center field” on defense instead of constantly covering for defensive lapses like he did so often last year. With other defensive players in the lineup, especially those with high IQ’s, the Grizzlies will be able to go back to their defensive rotations that have causes opponents so much trouble over the years.
Lastly, Marc Gasol is somewhat in a contract year. He has a $25 player option, according to Spotrac. Gasol won’t get that much money anywhere on the market, but that may not matter to him. Marc has always talked about how his main focus is winning and that is all he cares about, however, if Gasol continues to regress, what championship contender will want to pay for his services? If Gasol wants to join a contender like the Lakers he’ll need to show last year was a fluke. Even if he fully intends on opting into his player option, he needs to bounce back to prove to the organization they need him beyond the 2019-2020 when the team could be planning on handing the keys over to Jaren Jackson Jr.
Last year could have been a fluke for Gasol, a result of the team tanking and the subpar play around him. Father Time could also be catching up to the 33 year old. Gasol has 10 years of NBA experience, many summers of playing with Spain’s FIBA team, as well as the 3 years he played in Spain before coming to the NBA.
Father Time could very well be knocking, but Marc Gasol isn’t going to open that door just yet.
All stats via https://www.basketball-reference.com/