Friday, October 12th, 2012 at 3:14 pm  |  31 responses

Top 50: Marc Gasol, no. 29

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Rodger Bohn / @rodgerbohn

Seven-footers don’t exactly come a dime a dozen, and Marc Gasol took anything from the typical route. High school basketball in the States, skipping college to go pro in Europe far before Brandon Jennings could even fathom the notion, playing for two teams in Spain’s top division, then being traded for his big brother Pau. Did we mention that this was all by the time he hit 22?

The story of Marc Gasol’s basketball career starts in Memphis, TN. With his big bro Pau being the third pick in the ’01 Draft and face of the franchise, Marc came over to the states with his folks and enrolled at Memphis’ prestigious Lausanne Collegiate School. Things didn’t come as quickly for Marc as they did for Pau, who was drafted at the age of 19. You see, the younger brother was more of a lumbering big man who tipped the scales at over 300 pounds during his high school playing days.

Things started to come to fruition for Marc during his junior year, and by the time his final campaign at Lausanne rolled around, he dominated. As a senior, he got 26, 13 and 6 a night and as a result, was named Tennessee’s Mr. Basketball. Counting offers from numerous BCS programs, Marc decided to take his talents back home and sign with Spanish power FC Barcelona at the tender age of 18.

It is rare for any 18-year-old to see much time with Barcelona, much less a lumbering 7-footer who was out of shape. After three seasons with the top club in Spain that resulted in him playing a combined average of around 10 minutes per game, a move had to be made. With little playing time in the near future, the Spanish power placed Gasol on loan to a lower tier ACB team, Girona, which is where he made the transformation into the beast that we see today.

Spring boarding off of a strong 2006 European Championship and with an opportunity to earn some major burn, the now 20-year-old Gasol changed his mindset and got his body right. After reportedly tipping the scales at nearly 325 pounds, he was a svelte 260 and much more mobile. Girona’s often used him as a trail center, enabling him to make plays from the perimeter while also punishing defenders down low. Mix in those emerging skills, productivity and massive size, and it’s a no brainer as to why Marc saw himself drafted when he became automatically eligible in June of 2007.

Immediate opportunity presented itself with the Grizzlies in the post-Pau era, and kid brother stepped right in to fill the monstrous shoes left behind. Gasol teamed with Zach Randolph to give the Grizzlies one of the most memorable big men tandems of recent Playoff memory in 2011. After knocking off the No. 1-seeded Spurs, the Grizz took the Thunder to seven games, and while they lost, left an impression in every team’s find that the Grizz were not a team to be messed with.

Gasol parlayed this into a four-year, $58 million offer sheet from the Rockets, which Memphis immediately matched. Now some may ask why a guy who averaged a mere 14 points per game was worthy of a max offer. We’ll tell you why.

For starters, Marc Gasol is a HUGE dude, and guys with his package of size and mobility don’t come around too often. At 7-1 and 265 pounds, he can go to work from the high post just as easy as he can from the pivot. Gasol makes himself so tough to guard despite the fact that he’s primarily a below the rim guy because of the fact that he has an incredibly high-arcing shot with feathery touch and has gorgeous footwork on the blocks. In fact, there may not be a better pivoting center in the game of basketball today. Gasol can finish with either hand and when not putting points on the board, he has shown everyone that he is the best passing 5-man in the League today. Toss in solid rebounding number and defense (despite his slow feet), and it’s evident to a basketball rookie as to why one could make a strong case for him as the Grizzlies’ most valuable player.

Watch out Pau, ’cause baby bro is coming for your spot as best in the fam.

Where should Marc Gasol rank in the SLAMonline Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2012
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Greg Monroe Pistons C 8
49 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 14
48 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 13
47 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 12
46 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 11
45 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 14
44 Anthony Davis Hornets PF 13
43 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 12
42 Al Horford Hawks C 7
41 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 10
40 Danny Granger Pacers SF 6
39 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 11
38 John Wall Wizards PG 9
37 Monta Ellis Bucks SG 8
36 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 10
35 Roy Hibbert Pacers C 6
34 Tyson Chandler Knicks C 5
33 Eric Gordon Hornets SG 7
32 Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 9
31 Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 6
30 Amar’e Stoudemire Knicks PF 8
29 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 4

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’12-13 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Maurice Bobb, Rodger Bohn, Brendan Bowers, Franklyn Calle, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Adam Figman, Eldon Khorshidi, Eddie Maisonet III, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Allen Powell II, Sam Rubenstein, Jonathan Santiago, Abe Schwadron, Leo Sepkowitz, Dave Spahn, Ben Taylor, Tzvi Twersky, Peter Walsh, Tracy Weissenberg, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Dave Zirin.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    Like this. I’ve been saying he was underrated for awhile now!

  • tigerJK

    Marc Gasol is siickk

  • nhm

    he’s already a very talented guy… plus the fact that randolf compliments his game (same with his to randolph’s).. marc’s position would only continue to rise in the rankings.. i actually have hime top 20 in my list

  • JR

    Good ranking and nice write up. If he can improve his conditioning/decrease his body fat I don’t see why he can’t peak as a top 15 player in this league.

  • http://www.facebook.com/evan.boland Evan Boland

    Manu, Marc Gasol and Amare ahead of KG is a fucking joke. Clearly, you guy’s have no idea how many different way’s there are to affect a game. Did you guy’s even watch the post season?

  • http://twitter.com/iskolares Edcel Ceniza

    Oh yes we watched it and as you said “there are many different WAYS to affect a game” and I agree with this ranking.

  • spit hot fiyah

    best passing big man in the league

  • spit hot fiyah

    it’s called projection

  • http://www.facebook.com/qcollingwood Interdico Scriptor

    Does anyone thing Pau is better? Seriously??? I have always said that Marc was the better Gasol. Check my shit out! Marc>Pau

  • Drig

    Pau’s a PF who plays as a C, who is versatile and more skilled, reads the game better than any PF not named TD or KG, can defend at an above average level in spurts and has the higher IQ. He’s better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zac.kourambas Zac Kourambas


  • russian guy

    I was disappointed that he disappeard vs the Clippers,I think he should have been more vocal about getting the ball,Zach was hurt and Rudy Gay took Kobe Bryant shots without being Kobe Bryant.

  • Ugh

    Hahaha. Smackdown.

  • Ugh

    Can’t say I thought I’d see Marc Gasol ranked ahead of Amare’. And yet it somehow seems fair.

  • TR

    I think Gasol and the Grizzlies are the only team out west that could take OKC in a series. I know they lost to the Clips, but I just think with a healthy Z-bo that matchup is in their favor. Would be tough, but they could do it.

  • justin05

    Both LA teams can not only take, but beat the Thunder in a series. So can the Spurs.

  • justin05

    his bro is a little better lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    lol the Clippers beating the Thunder in a series….thats silly

  • http://www.facebook.com/evan.boland Evan Boland

    They have no leader, thus they will fall. Look at championship teams, they always have a leader to hold them together.

  • http://www.facebook.com/evan.boland Evan Boland

    If you watched last season and believe Marc Gasol or Amare have a greater impact than KG you just disrespecting the game as fell as an all-time great. Just proving you have a completely invalid opinion, just like SLAM. This coming from a Lakers fan.

  • http://twitter.com/iskolares Edcel Ceniza

    This ranking is not based on their production last year, this is based on their projected output this comibg season. Garnett being older, he will be ranked lower as it is expected that his numbers will go down due to his age. Get that!? PROJECTED output. Nuff said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/evan.boland Evan Boland

    Lmao. Garnett will still be better than Marc Gasol in even after this three year deal is up. Mostly, all you’re proving is that you’re just a statistician, which I had already figured. Numbers. Loool.

  • http://twitter.com/iskolares Edcel Ceniza

    If I am a statistician then you are the great Nostradamus? YOU JUST DON’T GET IT is the best summary I can give our exchange of thoughts. If not for stats, how are you supposed to rank these players? By height? By age? By number of seasons played? The fact that you have a total of 15 thumbs down on your comments just goes to show that a number of people does not agree with your comment. AGAIN, PROJECTED STATS/OUTPUT is the main factor for the ranking. GET IT GREAT NOSTRADAMUS?

  • http://www.facebook.com/evan.boland Evan Boland

    Again, if that’s how you measure players, ain’t not putting in debating you. You judge players but watching them, playing the game yourself, and being able to recognize a players value. Obviously stats give you some insight, but that doesn’t count Marc’s softness, Garnett’s hardness, leadership, motivation, shot changing ability, pick setting, and selfless playing. His D alone is more valuable than Marc’s overall game. And if you like, go check their playoff stats, boy. Unless you’re a reg season kinda guy haha, I mean you don’t win personal achievements in the playoffs. You get those mostly because of stats.

  • http://twitter.com/iskolares Edcel Ceniza

    Man, I have waited for your reply for 2 weeks thinking you have understood the rankings. But, you still haven’t understood it all along. How many games are played in the Playoffs and how many games are played in the regular season? Do teams/players reach the Playoffs before they play the regular season? Common sense will answer you with a big NO! As in capital N & O.

    Save your ass from all the humility and stay away from boards which you clearly do not have any idea what you are ranting on. PROJECTED STATS. PROJECTED STATS. PROJECTED STATS. Is that 2 words alien language to you? AFAIK English is your first language and you should be able to understand that 2 words.

    WANT PROOF? For the 1st game of the regular season, Garnett has a stat line of 9 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists,2 blocks and 5 turnovers while M. Gasol had 20 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block and 2 turnovers. THIS IS WHAT THE PROJECTED RANKING of slam was trying to predict. GARNETT being older would face a drop on his stats specially if they have a number of Power Forwards/Center who can make him rest and not play a lot of minutes.

    PROJECTED STATS. Yes, it is one game but again, PROJECTED STATS & PROJECTED RANKINGS. If you are going to base it on playoff stats, man you are on the wrong board and maybe D. Cousins should not be ranked after all since he has not tasted the playoffs yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/evan.boland Evan Boland

    I never said I think Garnett will be better than Gasol in a year or two. But I know what the list is based on, and Garnett is more valuable, more important, BETTER player than Marc Gasol. The C’s are in the playoffs. Why do you get so worked up over the reg season? Go ask some champions where you make your mark on the league. Since 18 years of age Garnett’s stats are elevated greatly in the playoffs. ‘Cause he ain’t out there trying to score 20 points a game. He wants his teammates involved, confident, as good as possible. He wants team chemistry, and teammates who believe in themselves. Than, once playoffs arrive, he’ll do whatever is best for the team, and like last season, if he feels its best to average 20-10 and anchor a team defense and motivate, he will. Marc Gasol can’t do that. He won’t do that. And the Grizz will go no where, despite their talent. Once again, if you think Gasol is better than Garnett, you haven’t watched enough, or don’t understand it. Something I do. Just a question, have you ever played bball?

  • http://twitter.com/iskolares Edcel Ceniza

    Please just stop, Man. Nobody is discrediting 18 prolific years from Garnett and his playoff performances. AGAIN and AGAIN, these are projected rankings for PROJECTED Stats. Might as well make an argument for TIM DUNCAN not being ranked higher then. You can’t right? Because as good as he has been, age is not on his side. MAN, these are really simple statements that you need to understand. AGE is on their side that is why the ranking is not on their side too. GET IT?

    YES I have played ball since grade school and we love to play ball in a country like the Philippines. And your point for the question is? We are midgets playing ball and if you ever get the chance to come to our country, contact me and let’s play ball. I would love to school you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/evan.boland Evan Boland

    I’m not a midget, I’m 6-7, and pretty damn good. But you may just destroy me, my achilles heel is my build and lack of athleticism. However, yes, watch the NBA, Timmy D and KG both more valuable than Marc. Not even close, really.

  • http://twitter.com/iskolares Edcel Ceniza

    Did I tell you you are a midget? Man, please learn how to read. I was referring to “us”, Asians, Filipinos in particular to being referenced as “midgets” but we sure can ball. Oh you are pretty damn good, how come you are not playing in the NBA or any professional league? There is no point arguing, let’s argue once the season’s over as this is what the ranking is for, TO RANK PLAYERS ACCORDING TO THEIR PROJECTED STATS THIS SEASON.

  • http://www.facebook.com/evan.boland Evan Boland

    Haha, deal. Are you seriously saying I can’t be good and not play in a pro league? That’s kind of ridiculous. I said I’m pretty damn good. I cant handle and shoot like a guard at 6’7. But I’m no where near athletic enough or devoted enough to make it to the pro’s or even NCAA.

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