San Antonio Spurs: Pau Gasol makes Sports Illustrated top 100 list
By Andrew Ites
San Antonio Spurs big man Pau Gasol is entering his 18th NBA season, but he is still one of the top 100 players in the league according to Sports Illustrated.
San Antonio Spurs fans may have thought Pau Gasol was on his last legs when he was signed a two-year contract at age 36.
Pau had just made two All-Star teams in Chicago, but his defense had become a problem and it was unclear whether he could keep up his level of production on the offensive end.
Gasol has answered those questions about his offense by adding a lethal three point shot. He’s made 44.2% of his three-pointers as a Spur on 1.6 attempts per night, which causes opposing defenses to respect his ability to score outside.
He’s continued to be an above-average passer for his position with 2.8 assists per game in 24.4 minutes during his two seasons in San Antonio. That type of ball movement from a center helps the flow of the Spurs’ offense, even though they’ve become more of an isolation team in recent years.
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Pau’s defense was probably his biggest question mark when he signed with the Spurs, but he has excelled in Gregg Popovich’s system.
Gasol ranked 17th among NBA centers in defensive real plus-minus last season, improving on his numbers from his first season with the Spurs where he ranked 31st.
Pau’s block rate has remained impressive even though he doesn’t have the same athleticism that he did during the prime of his career. He’s averaged over one block per game in San Antonio, which is a very solid number for someone playing under 25 minutes a night.
Gasol is making plenty of money for his services as he begins the second season of a three-year, $48 million contract (only $6.7 million guaranteed in the final year).
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While he might be slightly overpaid for his contributions, Pau’s outside shooting, ball movement, and above-average defense will probably keep him on this top 100 list until he decides to call it a career.
Check out what we think of the other Spurs ranked on this top 100 list: