The Memphis Grizzlies took a firm grasp of the three-seed in the NBA’s Western Conference on Wednesday night with a victory over their biggest competition for the spot, the Los Angeles Clippers. The Grizzlies have been a quality team all season, but have really turned it on in recent weeks. Over their last 15 games, the Grizzlies are a fantastic 14-1.
A huge part of Memphis’ success over this season and during their current run has been their starting center, Marc Gasol. Gasol is one of the marquee-players on the Grizzlies and he has proven why he deserves that title. One thing he doesn’t get enough of, though, is recognition for all that he contributes to this team.
To start with, Gasol is averaging 14.3 points per game this season on 49.6 percent shooting. That’s not the type of offensive production that’s going to win him a scoring title or anything, but it’s definitely solid for a team that doesn’t score many points as a whole anyway. Gasol also averages 7.7 rebounds per game. That number isn’t fantastic either, but it is solid, especially considering that Zach Randolph, one of the best rebounders in the league, is his partner in the Grizzlies’ frontcourt.
Gasol adds a great deal of defense to the Grizzlies, as well. He averages one steal and 1.7 blocks per game on the defensive end and has a defensive rating of just 91.2. More than just his defensive statistics, watching Gasol reveals way more about his defense. He rarely makes a slow or weak rotation, almost never gives position on the low-block, and seems to always make the smart decision. He’s one of the best defensive big-men in the game.
Equal to his defense in its impressiveness, one thing that sometimes goes unnoticed about Gasol is his passing ability. This season he’s averaging 3.9 assists per game. More impressively, Gasol has averaged 5.1 assists per game over the Grizzlies’ last five games. Gasol is not able to work well in sets where he’s on the perimeter, but he’s also arguably the best big-man in the league when it comes to passing on the interior.
Gasol is possibly the most indispensable player for the Grizzlies because he does so many things. He’s a great player, not because he’s great at a certain skill, but because he’s above-average in almost every facet of the game. It’s about time people started appreciating just how good he is.