H: 7' 0"|
W: 227 lbs
(35 Years Old)
|Agent: Steven Heumann |
Hometown: Barcelona, Spain
Drafted: Pick 3 in 2001 by Hawks
Overview:One of the most versatile scoring big men in the NBA. Extremely efficient player who can score with his back to the basket, put the ball on the floor from the high post, play pick and roll, or step out and knock down a mid-range jump-shot. Has great size at 7-feet with a decent frame, good length and solid athletic ability. A solid rebounder and shot-blocker, although his overall defense probably can’t be described as anything more than average. Rookie of the year in 2002. Won a World Championship with Spain in 2006, although was injured for the final game. One of the top international players in NBA history, even if he’s still young. A huge talent with outstanding physical gifts and versatile skills, but never quite as good as some people expected, possibly due to a lack of mental and physical toughness. Got his wish to be traded in 2008 when he was practically given away by bottom-feeding Memphis to the LA Lakers, and helped them reach the NBA Finals—where he looked much more comfortable playing second banana to Kobe Bryant, and really flourished.
Offense: The Lakers used Gasol as their primary low-post threat, where he utilizes his terrific touch to knock down jump-hooks with either hand, show excellent footwork on his drop-step move, beat guys off the dribble facing up from the mid-post, or even get flashy with a pretty running hook shot. He has a quick first step, and is very fluid and agile, allowing him to read defenses and react to what his defender throws at him and improvise intelligently. He is also excellent at cutting off the ball and rolling to the basket on the pick and roll, where his terrific hands, agility and ability to finish at the rim (where he ranks as one of the best in the NBA) make him a real asset. Gasol gets to the free throw line at a high rate, and converts a sparkling 80% of his attempts once there. He is also an excellent passer, amongst the best bigs in the league in assists. He can also step out and knock mid-range jumpers at a solid rate, and is particularly effective from 14-18 feet. If needed, he can even hit an international range 3-pointer.
Defense: Gasol has terrific tools to get the job done on this end of the floor, as he has great size, length and agility—allowing him to cover either the 4 or the 5 spots with varying degrees of success at the NBA level. He is quick enough to hedge screens on the perimeter and shows very good lateral quickness for a 7-footer. His length is a big asset in terms of contesting shots, and he is capable of playing fairly solid on-ball defense when he puts his mind to it. Gasol lacks the bulk to defend some of the heavier back to the basket matchups he’ll encounter at times, giving up position in the low post and getting outmuscled. He lacks a degree of intensity and hustle closing out shooters and is not the fiery type who will throw his body in harm’s way. He can block shots at a decent rate and is also a solid rebounder, although he’s not what you could call a beast in either category. Considering his excellent physical attributes and feel for the game, Gasol is still a very useful player to have on this end of the floor, although he could probably be even better.
Possibly the most polished post player in the FIBA World Championships, Pau Gasol will be expected to shoulder quite a load in leading one of the favorites to come away with Gold Medal.
After taking a summer off International competition last year to focus on resting and getting stronger in anticipation of the grueling 82+ schedule that awaited him with the Memphis Grizzlies, Gasol is rested and hungry to come in and finally help the Spaniards cash in on their always intriguing talented roster. This year’s might be its strongest version yet, with two more NBA players besides him (Calderon, Garbajosa), another young talent just drafted in the first round (Sergio Rodriguez) and yet another international star in Juan Carlos Navarro who would be in the NBA as well if he weren’t tied down to a mammoth deal in Spain. Gasol’s team will be expected to go deep into the tournament and anything less than a medal will be considered another disappointment for what has been a perennially underachieving team in recent years.
To do that, Gasol will have to muster up every ounce of talent and energy he has in the tank, on both ends of the floor. When he’s focused, there isn’t a player at this tournament who can stop him from getting his shot and scoring at the rim.
Gasol is a legit 7-footer with superb quickness, coordination and balance, showing nimble feet, excellent offensive instincts and the type of versatile big man skill-set that makes NBA general managers drool. He is at his best facing the basket and using his athleticism and ball-handling skills to put the ball on the floor, spin off his defender and use either hand to finish creatively in the post.
Few 7-footers in the NBA beyond Dirk Nowitzki can create their own offense the way Gasol does on a consistent basis, being somewhat of a prototype for possessing a fundamentally sound modern post game from 16 feet and in.
If his defender sags off him to prevent him from putting the ball on the floor, Gasol has no problem knocking down the mid-range jumper from anywhere on the floor thanks to his outstanding touch. Double team him as many teams often try to do and he’ll usually do a good job finding the open man cutting to the basket or spotting up on the wing. Fully meshing with his teammates and establishing good chemistry will be a must, since Gasol is the type of player that needs excellent spacing and the type of teammates that understand his unique strengths and are willing to work for him in their off the ball movement.
Defensively he’s adequate at the NBA level, but capable of being much more than that in the International game thanks to his excellent size, fluidity and length. A solid shot-blocker back in the States—with either hand mind you--don’t be surprised at all to see him become more of a force here as Spain’s starting center.
The biggest questions about Gasol and whether he’s a legit go-to guy and true franchise player revolve around his ability to deliver in the clutch. This is an especially touchy topic for the Spanish national team in general, so it will be fascinating to see how they react in close game situations, which will inevitably present themselves throughout the tournament. He’s gotten tougher, more aggressive and quite a bit more willing to take over games during the past season, but concerns about his true mental toughness still quietly abound in NBA circles. He has a chance to answer those and then some in Japan.