SLAM Top 50: Pau Gasol, no. 34

The definitive ranking of the NBA's best players for 2015-16.
by September 24, 2015
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I always thought Pau Gasol had a really cool name. I loved that the way everyone pronounced his first name sounded like pow. Like pow, pow! Those words in big, red letters appearing in the comic books when the superheroes defeat the bad guys. Take that! And that! Here’s another two points! Pow, a block! And pow, a slam!

But his cool Spanish name is only one of the many things the 14-year NBA veteran has going for him.

In those 14 (soon to be 15) solid years, Pau earned two NBA Championships, five All-Star Game selections, and a reputation as arguably one of the best European players to ever take the court. From Barcelona to Memphis to Los Angeles to Chicago, Pau makes a powerful statement wherever he goes.

Last season was an awesome one, as Pau suited up in a no. 16 Chicago Bulls uniform for the first time. The change was good for the 7-foot power forward/center, and the numbers certainly show that. The then 34-year-old led the League in double-doubles with 54 on the season, while also averaging 18.5 points, 2.7 assists, and a career-best 11.8 rebounds per game. He recorded a career-high 9 blocks on New Year’s Day, and less than two weeks after scored another career high, this time in the points category with 46.

Not bad for a dude some people might be inclined to call an oldie.

As an encore to his high-performing season, Pau led Spain to the 2015 EuroBasket Championship just earlier this week. Averaging 8.8 boards and 25.6 points on 57.5 percent shooting, Pau showed he’s still got the stuff and even has MVP hardware to prove it.

Pow! Pow!

With the fresh reminder that Pau still has a whole lotta fire left in him, it’s clear why he jumped up from no. 41 last year to no. 34 on this definitive ranking prior to the upcoming 2015-16 NBA season. Pau’s averages increased a couple digits from 2013-14 to 2014-15, with higher numbers in both scoring and rebounding. But an even more significant improvement comes in his actual games played—78 in his first year in the Windy City compared to 60 the previous season in L.A. Pau was healthy again last year, before the Playoffs that is. But as we saw in the EuroBasket, he seems ready to go all in.

And we’re ready, too. Seeing Pau climb back up the ladder last season was pretty great, as we’re big fans of his work both on and off the court. While we can’t say we’re picking the Bulls as top of the East for 2015-16, a reenergized Pau and a rookie coach mixing things up a tad should be interesting to watch.

Pow, a slam! Pow, a block! Pow, a fadeaway J! Pau, Pau Pau! Whatever plays the super Spaniard has in store for us, I can’t get enough of the guy’s name or his play—and neither can Chi-Town, Spain or the world, really.

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SLAM Top 50 Players 2015
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Rajon Rondo Kings PG 14
49 Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks SF 8
48 Rudy Gobert Jazz C 10
47 Al Jefferson Hornets C 9
46 DeMar DeRozan Raptors SG 7
45 Goran Dragic Heat PG 13
44 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 11
43 Jeff Teague Hawks PG 12
42 Bradley Beal Wizards SG 6
41 Joakim Noah Bulls C 8
40 Eric Bledsoe Suns PG 11
39 Tony Parker Spurs PG 10
38 Andrew Wiggins T-Wolves SF 7
37 Kyle Lowry Raptors PG 9
36 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 10
35 Gordon Hayward Jazz SF 6
34 Pau Gasol Bulls PF 9



Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2015-16—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.