Now that the season has come to an end for the Toronto Raptors, we’re taking the next week to grade how each key player on this season’s team performed in the playoffs, from Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam to Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka.
Next up: Marc Gasol.
Marc Gasol’s regular season was filled with ups and downs, the result of injuries and maybe a bit of a hangover from celebrating the incredible summer he had.
Many agreed that there was something off with Gasol, but we couldn’t quite come to a consensus of what it actually was. Was he out of shape? Was he getting old? Was he tired from the amount of basketball he played in the last 12 months? There were a ton of questions but very few answers.
The eye test said that Gasol looked different but the numbers said otherwise. As long as Gasol was on the floor, the Raptors were a more productive team.
|Gasol On Floor||Gasol Off Floor|
Fast forward to mid-June while the season was suspended due to the pandemic, a now healthy Marc Gasol looked like he had used the time off to get into the best shape of his life. Raptors writers rushed to their laptops feverishly typing that this version of Gasol will make the difference for the upcoming playoff run.
And then the eight seeding games came around and there was still something wrong – and this time the stats backed it up.
Gasol’s assists fell from 3.4 per game to 2.9 in the last eight games of the year. His sublime 40.2 percent from 3-point range that was going to help open Toronto’s offence up in the playoffs fell to 28.6 percent. Gasol’s offence was in trouble, but his defence wasn’t. The Raptors were still only giving up 91.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor – second only to OG Anunoby for the best mark on the team. When Gasol checked out of the game, that number ballooned to 110.3 points per 100.
His value was in his defence, and that kept him on the floor.
The playoffs began and it all fell apart for Gasol in a hurry. His offence continued to suffer, but his defence started to plummet too. In their first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets, the Raptors were giving up 11.1 points per 100 possessions more with Gasol on the floor. It didn’t have an effect on the series because, let’s face it, the Raptors were a far better team than the short-handed Nets.
Round Two against Boston may have been the ultimate eye-opener.
Gasol finished the series averaging 5.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists on 39.5 percent shooting from the field and 12.5 percent from 3-point range, all below his season averages and – it goes without saying – below his high standards. Toronto had a net rating of minus 9.0 with Gasol on the floor for the series and he had a team-low net rating of minus 46.9 in the biggest game of the year – the Game 7 lost to the Celtics.
The eye test finally matched up with the numbers in the bubble. Gasol wasn’t right all year and gave the Raptors very little this postseason after giving them so much in last year’s championship run.
At 35, Gasol is a free agent, and both he and the Raptors have a decision to make. He’s already reportedly eyeing a possible return to Europe to be closer to family, but should he stay in the NBA, is the best place for him in Toronto? That question is surely being asked by not only Gasol but the Raptors’ front office.
Gasol wasn’t the reason the Raptors were eliminated from the playoffs, but he certainly didn’t help.
Playoff Grade: D
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