Some of you may know Marc strictly through his brother Pau. However, this may be a name you want to acquaint yourself with more as he and his Memphis Grizzlies become more and more noticeable in the NBA.
Before the NBA, Marc played in the Spanish league, Liga ACB. While there, he was named the ACB Most Valuable Player in 2008. He was originally drafted by the Lakers in 2007 but the rights to his contract were traded to Memphis for Pau Gasol. It was the first time in NBA history that two siblings were traded for one another. His rookie season was often eclipsed by the rookie seasons of Derrick Rose, Russel Westbrook and Michael Beasley. However, Gasol averaged almost 12 points and 7 rebounds a game. In October 2008, he went 10 straight games with 10 points or more on 49-for-84 shooting. He went on to break the rookie franchise record of highest field goal percentage at 53 percent. Pau held the previous record. This season, Marc is approaching 2000 points on his career and has raised his averages to nearly 15 points and 9.5 rebounds a game. He is shooting nearly 60 percent from the field.
Gasol’s success spans further than just the pros as he has helped the Spanish national basketball team win several worldwide awards. He helped them bring home the gold medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championship and Silver at the 2007 European Championship. He was also a part of the team that won the silver at the 2008 Olympics right behind the Redeem Team of the United States. Last but not least, he was present in the controversial team photo before those Olympic games.
Aside from last year’s draft pick, Hasheem Thabeet, Memphis has built a very young and athletic squad through smart picks. O.J. Mayo (USC), Mike Conley (Ohio State) and Rudy Gay (Connecticut) were all well groomed by powerhouse basketball programs before even entering the NBA. They, along with this year’s acquisitions of Zach Randolph and Ronnie Brewer (injured), has shown the NBA that Memphis plans on winning, no wait, dominating in the future.
It doesn’t look like the Grizzlies will be catching up with Portland for that last eighth seed in the West but they made a run which none of us saw coming. Hopefully Thabeet has learned a little from his time in the D League but he really isn’t the answer for big-man depth behind Marc. However, Gasol provides solid numbers for this young team to build around and provides temporary size for Memphis. To be true competitors though, they really need to get some more big bodies on this team to assist in defense. If this team stay intact and builds together, look out for a very dangerous team led by a very dangerous Spaniard in the future.