Marc Gasol is Ageless and it’s Awesome

Marc Gasol – apparently otherwise known as “Big Burrito” – is an ageless wonder. It must just be something in the Gasol DNA. Entering his age 34 season and off a “down year,” it was fair to wonder where Gasol’s career was headed. The blatant tank job of 2017-18 manifested into a frustrated Gasol. With Memphis much more competitive this year, Marc Gasol looks like the normal Big Burrito to which we are accustomed.

Defensive Anchor

The Grizzlies are 4th in defensive rating this season, and unsurprisingly this effort is being lead by Marc Gasol. Gasol is 1st in the league in D-PIPM this year. He is 4th in defensive win shares, and 6th in defensive box plus-minus. Opponents are producing 2.1 points below expectation on post-ups when guarded by Gasol.

As of now, Gasol is posting the best defensive rebound rate of his career. His 27.3% would be two percentage points better than the career high he set just last year. He is helping Memphis on the boards in other ways as well. Gasol is currently 6th in the league in box outs per game.

Gasol also has 1.3 points saved at the rim this season, which ranks in the 65th percentile league wide.

Before the season began it looked like the Memphis defense could revert back to being an upper tier unit. Look for this, and Gasol’s impact, to continue.


Marc Gasol adds desperately needed playmaking to the Memphis offense. He is 3rd on the team in both assists per 36 minutes and assist rate. This season marks the third consecutive year Gasol is posting an assist rate above 20%.

All of this meshes with what our grades would have suggested entering the year. Gasol graded as an A in the playmaking category last year. Kyle Anderson, Dillon Brooks, Mike Conley, and Shelvin Mack all graded as an A- or better in off-ball movement. Chandler Parsons received a B in off-ball movement.

Gasol is doing a wonderful job as a facilitator this year.

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Check out this sequence below. Gasol sets a screen, rolls to the basket as both defenders dive to the ball, then throws a pass to an open cutter on the back side without taking a dribble.

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That’s the type of basketball IQ that will keep Gasol impactful as his athleticism declines.


Marc Gasol is shooting 41.9 percent from three as of this writing. This number will come down as the season wears on. However, Gasol has shot 36.6 percent from distance on his last 631 attempts. We know it takes 750 three-point attempts to learn the true marksmanship of a shooter. We are very close to a verified reality where Gasol is a quality stretch five.

Yet his eFG% and true shooting% are below his career norms. Specifically pertaining to his TS%, Gasol’s free throw rate is a little low right now but figures to tick back up.

He is shooting only 41.8 percent from the field overall, and a lot of it has to do with his shot profile. This season would mark the fourth consecutive year where Gasol is taking less than 17 percent of his field goal attempts at the rim. His career mark is 24.2 percent. That is a shame because he has shot 68.6 percent at the rim for his career.

The good news is this will be the third straight season in which has has take 23 percent or more of his field goal attempts from deep. The moderately worrisome news is his mid-range game. 26.7 percent of Gasol’s shots are coming from between 3 feet and 10 feet from the basket. He is shooting 30.8 percent on those shots. He is also shooting 36.4 percent from 10 to 16 feet and 36.8 percent from 16 feet out to the three point line.

Gasol has settled for too many of these this season.

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Marc Gasol deserves the benefit of the doubt that these will eventually be legislated out of his shot profile. Perhaps he is pressing due to all the losing from last year. Perhaps he isn’t yet comfortable with all his new teammates, as Memphis had the 7th highest roster turnover this year. It could be a combination of both, or neither. But after 11 years of being a highly intelligent player, expect this to work itself out.

So Are We Starting the MVP Campaign?

Ok, Marc Gasol for MVP is beyond a long shot. Regardless, Gasol is sitting at 9th in both PIPM and Jacob Goldstein’s Wins Added metric. In addition to his at-present career bests in defensive rebound rate and three-point percentage, Gasol is snatching a career high 1.9 steals per game. Not too bad for someone in his age 34 season.

Marc Gasol is an ageless wonder, and it’s awesome.

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