And for a team currently ranking second in the Western Conference, Most Valuable Player Candidate Kawhi Leonard is beginning to receive more consistency from his teammates. Ultimately, the help has come from six-time NBA All-Star Pau Gasol.
Pau has played tremendously well since the All-Star break, and is smoking hot from the three-point line. Since the break, the 36 year-old is 22-36 from long distance, and is averaging 14.0 points and 7.3 rebounds.
In late-January, Gasol suffered a broken hand, forcing him to miss 4-6 weeks of action. However, the Spurs went 11-4 in his absence, featuring key wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In his first game back on February 24th, Gasol looked as if he didn’t miss a single beat. He had a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds, and was 3-3 from outside. The Spurs picked up a 105-97 road-win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
And although Gasol hasn’t taken many three-pointers, he’s still hitting them whenever he finds his chances. I’ll also mention that Gasol is blasting away on 70% on corner threes this season, after shooting just 32% with the Chicago Bulls the season prior.
Pau has already surpassed any of his previous season totals for both three-pointers made and attemped. It’ll be vital for him to continue spacing the floor, as he and frontcourt teammate LaMarcus Aldridge will remain as one of the deadliest offensive low-post tandems in the NBA.
And for a fifteen-year veteran, Gasol is giving the Spurs as great of production as they could ask for. A player who’s maintained a long career of sustainability, it’s no surprise to see Gasol contributing at this high of a level with San Antonio.
*Per 100 possessions, Gasol is putting up lethal numbers of 24.8 points, 15.3 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks through 59 games this season.*
Following the retirement of Tim Duncan, the Spurs signed Gasol to a two-year, $31 million deal last summer — in an effort to replace Duncan. As the Spurs remain postseason contenders under Greg Popovich, Gasol taking Duncan’s place is an ideal way to initiate the post-Duncan era.