Despite rumors that he would be unable to play against Croatia, Marc Gasol had a nice game in 14 minutes with 6 rebounds but only 3 points on 1-3 shooting from the field. Gasol was tied for 2nd on the team in rebounding for the game.
Marc did not play against the hapless Angolan team.
Marc Gasol played well in limited minutes against the USA. His performance caught the eye of quite a few USA players including Kobe Bryant who was quoted saying "He's a big man. He can shoot it. In hindsight, we probably didn't have to give him up to get Pau. We should have kept Marc, too." Okay that last comment was a bit of salt in the wound reminding Memphis fans of the original feeling that Memphis donated Pau to the Lakers but in hindsight the Grizzlies gave up Pau and got Marc, Darrell Arthur, Javaris Crittenton and a future #1 pick. It doesn't look like such a donation now as it did back in February.
Kobe wasn't alone in making kind comments about Gasol either. Dwight Howard was quoted saying that "You can see he can shoot the ball." and numerous other USA players including Jason Kidd and Carlos Boozer commented on how big he is. Jason Kidd was quoted saying "Me and Kobe were talking about it. He's a guy who knows how to play the game. Anyone would love to have him on their team."
What did he actually do in the game to earn such praise? Well for one thing he wasn't thrown to the ground like his more notorious brother was early in the game, by Kobe Bryant no less. Pau was run over not by Dwight Howard or Carlos Boozer. Pau was taken out by a guard who is also his teammate. Marc was tougher than his brother and refused to back down (or fall down) despite fouling out in 17 minutes. His 8 points and 3 boards were average in production but Dwight Howard only had 10 points and 4 rebounds in the same amount of time.
Marc Gasol turned in another quality performance in the Olympics with an 8 pt 5 rebound game against China. Gasol focused most of his efforts on defense and only attempted 4 shots (hitting 3) and shot only 3 free throws (making 2). He did contribute defensively to holding Yao Ming to a terrible 4-12 shooting game and limiting the 7-5 center to a mere 4 rebounds. Against Germany Gasol again had a good effort containing Chris Kaman while grabbing 8 rebounds and scoring 7 points.
So far Marc Gasol has not looked like a fluid offensive player but he has had his moments including hitting the big shot to tie the game against China sending it to OT. His defense has been solid against solid NBA players (Kaman and Yao) but it will be interesting to see how Marc matches up against stronger and faster players like Dwight Howard and Carlos Boozer. This should be the true test of his ability to contribute this season as a 23 yr old rookie.
After three games Marc Gasol is averaging 7.3 ppg and 5.7 rpg in just under 20 minutes a game. Solid but not spectacular numbers. This should not be surprising as very few players put up huge numbers on balanced teams in Olympic competition. For instance Chris Kaman is averaging only 5.7 rebounds and his average of 12 ppg is somewhat misleading as he had 24 pts against Angola but only 4 against Greece and 8 against Spain.
So Marc is playing well in limited minutes in a difficult environment. He isn't being considered a star of the Olympics but right now Memphis needs someone who can be solid in the middle not a star. The stars for the Grizzlies future should be on the perimeter with Conley, Mayo and Gay. Memphis needs blue collar contributions in the paint. So far Gasol looks capable of doing that.
First the good news. He hasn't broken a bone in his foot yet! With the realization that Darko Milicic has tendinitis in his Achilles heal from participating with his national team in Serbia, this is very good news.
Spain opened Olympic play against another medal favorite Greece. The Spanish team coasted to a 15 point win. While Marc did not start he did play nearly half the game (19 minutes) and played well. He scored 7 points and grabbed 4 rebounds. He was the 4th highest scorer on the Spanish team and the 4th highest rebounder. He also threw in an assist. Not a bad start for the 23 yr old being counted on for the first time in his career to play a meaningful role on the national team.
On the disappointing side, Marc Gasol was only 2-6 from the field and didn't seem to make a big impact on the game when he was playing. However the international game is not as much a big man's game as the NBA can be so this isn't very surprising. On a side note Greece started former Memphis Grizzlies player Antonis Fotsis. Fotsis finished with 7 points and 7 rebounds in 29 minutes for the Greeks.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008