Pau Gasol July 2014

When free agency comes around, every fan wants that big name player to join their team. For many teams, Pau Gasol would fit that role tremendously.

The all-star center/forward from Spain has received interest from a number of teams including the Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls and the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.

While those destinations would be great from him, the best landing spot could be the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Benefits for the Thunder

1) Scoring For the most part, coach Scott Brooks knows that he is getting 20-30 points each night from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But ever since they traded James Harden to Houston, the Thunder have lacked a consistent third scoring option. Kevin Martin (whom they traded to Minnesota), Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb have all tried, but not quite succeeded in that role. While Serge Ibaka averaged 15 points per game last season, he is not the offensive force Gasol is. With Gasol, OKC will have the low post and midrange scoring they need. Last year, even though his playing time was down, Gasol averaged 17.4 points per game. He also shot 48 percent from the field and 73.6 percent from the free throw line. Adding that to OKC will take a lot of pressure off of Durant and Westbrook.

2) Ball Movement In addition to being a crafty scorer, Gasol is also a great passer. His ability to make good decisions with the ball can help OKC cut down on turnovers (they ranked 26th in the NBA last year). His passes also lead to points. Gasol averaged 3.4 assists a game last year.

3) Rebounding This is not a problem area for the Thunder (they finished T-6th in the league in 2013-14), however, they can only improve with Gasol manning the block. Pau averaged 9.7 boards per game last year, 1.1 more than he had in 2012-2013.

4) Championship Pedigree As a part of two championship Laker teams, Gasol knows what it takes to win a title. Having him able to work with and contribute to this young Thunder team is something the OKC brass should greatly desire.

Negatives for the Thunder

1) Defensive Struggles Gasol did average 1.5 blocks per game last year, however, he is not what you would call a “defensive enforcer.” In the past (and even now) his defense and toughness have been called into question and scrutinized. Luckily, Ibaka plays the role of rim protector on the Thunder. If Gasol can at least provide solid effort, this may not be as much of a concern.

2) Age Gasol’s age works for and against him here. As he is about to turn 34, Gasol is no spring chicken. With age come injuries and longer recovery times for them. This past season, Gasol was sidelined for a number of games with a groin injury and a very bad case of vertigo.

Gasol is still one of the best big men in the league today. After suffering through last year’s disaster season with the Lakers, I’m sure a change of scenery and some young, skilled and healthy teammates would be welcome.

If Gasol goes the way of the Thunder, expect to see them battling for the conference (and maybe NBA) title again.


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