This is What Makes Marc Gasol the 21st Best Player in the NBA

Throughout the offseason, we’ll be counting down the Top 50 players in the NBA from 50 to 1. Who will just miss the cut? Which names do you expect to see? Regardless, you’ll be able to find them all right here.

Why He’s Great: Rewind this list back to the 40s. Remember how excited we were about Brook Lopez shooting three-pointers now? Well, he shot below 35 percent from long range. Marc Gasol shot almost 39 percent.

So take the player we ranked No. 46. Make him one of the league’s best passing big men. And one of the league’s best defensive big men. And then just casually include a 39 percent three-point stroke. That’s Marc Gasol right now. He is so incredibly good at the things that he does that nobody even noticed that he averaged fewer rebounds per game than Wilson Chandler.

The advantage of having Brook Lopez was that he created a mismatch on the low block without sacrificing spacing. Gasol does that too, but he adds the third dimension of torching teams that try to do anything about those things by passing. Double him down low? Cool, he’ll hit the open shooter. Drag your center out to the three-point line to stick with him? He’ll hit cutters all day. Put a smaller defender on him as a compromise? He’ll score close to the hoop with ease.

There’s no longer a good way to defend Marc Gasol. He’s everything you want an offensive center to be. And, everything you want a traditional defensive center to be.

Why He’s Below No. 20 (Gordon Hayward): Well, let’s go through this skill for skill.

Marc Gasol is a great scoring center. Gordon Hayward is a great scoring wing.

Marc Gasol is a great passing center. Gordon Hayward is a great passing wing.

Marc Gasol is a great defensive center. Gordon Hayward is a great defensive wing.

Noticing the trend here? They’re both great, but wings are more important than centers. Gasol brings a ton of things to the table, but Hayward matches that without taking anything off of it. As good as Gasol is on defense, modern teams will always find ways to make life difficult for traditional bigs.

He can’t switch as seamlessly as Hayward. And he can’t handle the ball as much either. Marc Gasol is not going to run pick-and-rolls for himself. Hayward can. It’s really just a matter of importance relative to the times. Gordon Hayward does the things that NBA teams currently need desperately. Marc Gasol does some of them, but many of his skills would have been more useful a few years ago. Hayward just fits more easily onto modern rosters.

Yardbarker: NBA

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