San Antonio Spurs center Pau Gasol is expected to make his return after the All-Star Break. When he does, should he get his starting job back?
Since Gasol was injured back in January, the Spurs have gone 11-4.
Why? The resurgent play of backup center Dewayne Dedmon. Per-36 minutes. Dedmon is averaging 11.2 points on 62.4% shooting, 13.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.7 blocks and an offensive rating of 108.5.
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In comparison, Gasol is averaging 16.0 points on 51% shooting, 10.8 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 1.6 blocks and an offensive rating of 111.3. There is no question that Gasol is the superior offensive talent.
On the defensive side of the ball, Dedmon has a defensive rating of 95.1 in 50 games played. Gasol, on the other hand, has a defensive rating of 104.7 in 39 games played.
Gasol has a higher defensive rating than Draymond Green, Rudy Gobert, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Marc Gasol, and his teammates LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard.
There was chatter that Dedmon has made the Spurs better defensively, and that simply has not been the case. On January 19th, the day Gasol broke his finger, the Spurs were allowing 98.4 points per game. As of today, the Spurs are still allowing just 98.4 points per game.
On January 19th, the Spurs were allowing 40.6 points in the paint, seventh in the NBA. As of today, the Spurs are still allowing just 40.6 points in the paint, still seventh in the NBA.
Spurs have 4 of the Top 5 highest Offensive Ratings in the NBA over the last 10 games. Pau Gasol is #1 (125.7). pic.twitter.com/y4iWcAqlTU
— Jordan Howenstine (@AirlessJordan) January 18, 2017
While the team hasn’t suffered defensively in Gasol’s absence, they have struggled to score points on the offensive end. On January 19th, the Spurs were averaging 107.1 points per game, eighth best in the NBA. Today, they are averaging 106.7, 11th in the NBA.
Overall, the Spurs have managed to maintain their high level of success with Gasol out. In his absence, Dedmon has done a fantastic job, and should be applauded for his efforts.
In that span, Dedmon has made his presence felt, completing more alley-oops than 15 other NBA teams. At 7’0″ feet and 245 pounds, Dedmon is a force to be reckoned with.
— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) February 13, 2017
However, when Gasol returns after the all-star break, the starting job is his.
Although having two centers who are capable of starting is a great problem to have, i’m sure the decision for head coach Gregg Popovich will be simple.
With Gasol on the floor, the Spurs are at their best potential, especially offensively.
Whether he’s on the floor or off the floor, the Spurs have been an elite defense.
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To beat teams like the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors, the Spurs will need all the offensive firepower available to them. They have that firepower, and his name is Gasol.
Not to mention, moving Dedmon to the bench elevates the second unit. Patty Mills, Manu Ginobli, Jonathan Simmons, David Lee and Dedmon is quite a formidable second unit.
The Rockets don’t have the luxury of a productive second-unit, which will hurt them in a series against the Spurs. The Warriors lost their depth in the pursuit of Kevin Durant, but since they have four all-stars on their team, a bench isn’t really necessary.
The Spurs will take on the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, February 24th at 8:30 CT. It should be interesting to see what Popovich does with his starting lineup and rotations with Gasol back.
If I was a betting man, i’d say Gasol will be back in the starting unit. Stay tuned for confirmation.