Anyone who watches the NBA can tell you that Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol is one of the best defenders in the league. He has the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year award to prove it, along with the stats to back it up, as well.
Gasol averaged 7.8 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and one steal per game last season, but that doesn’t encapsulate the entirety of his defensive impact. Gasol was the 29th best defender in the league in terms of points per possession, allowing just 0.76 last year. Moreover, Gasol’s versatility as a defensive player is incredibly impressive. It doesn’t matter whether he’s defending the pick-and-roll, being posted up, or even being pulled out to defend the mid-range, he is able to defend it effectively.
However, while everyone is raving about his defense, many people fail to realize what an asset Gasol is to the Grizzlies on the offensive end of the floor. His averages of 14.1 points and four assists per game last season aren’t striking, but he does a great deal for Memphis on that end of the floor.
In terms of his scoring, Gasol averaged 0.97 points per possession last season, the 102nd best rate in the league. However, when you isolate his post-up and pick-and-roll numbers, which accounted for 56.8 percent of his offense, he was phenomenal. In post-up situations, Gasol averaged 0.96 points per possession, ranking 15th in the NBA. In the pick-and-roll as the screener, Gasol averaged 1.19 points per possession, the 23rd best rate in the league. He may not be incredibly versatile in scoring, but he’s definitely above-average in more than one area.
Arguably the greatest thing Gasol gives Memphis offensively, though, is his interior passing. Gasol is one of the best big men in the league in terms of making an extra pass, passing out of double-teams, and even creating for his teammates with his passing. In fact, Gasol’s 19 percent assist percentage last season was the best in the league among centers last season.
Memphis unquestionably relies on Gasol as a defensive leader and stalwart. However, that’s not all that the big man can do. Gasol has the ability to make his team better on both ends of the floor, not just one. We would be wise to take more notice of that.