Following two legacy-altering championships, placing Marc Gasol among his international contemporaries is no easy task.
The summer of 2019 has certainly been one to remember for Marc Gasol. Months after helping the Toronto Raptors to their first-ever NBA championship, the Spanish big man helped his native country of Spain bring home a gold medal at the FIBA World Cup.
Spain never lost in the tournament, finishing 8-0 en route to its first FIBA world title win since 2006 with a convincing 95-75 win over Argentina in the title game.
Gasol wasn’t the MVP — that honor belonged to Ricky Rubio — but he still managed to put forth an applaudable effort of 14.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists in just 28.5 minutes per game.
Given everything he’s accomplished at every stage of his career, the Hall of Fame appears to be the likely final destination for Gasol whenever he decides to call it quits.
It’s victories like his most recent one, however, that turn the gears on the discussion regarding his place among the greatest international players ever.
Gasol’s career is impressive, but it doesn’t stack up with legends whose fingerprints are stained all across the storybook of NBA history.
Across 11 NBA seasons, Gasol has never averaged more than 17.4 points or 9.3 rebounds per game.
His career numbers read of 15.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.5 blocks per game with a Player Efficiency Rating of 18.5, 140th all-time, just ahead of current contemporaries Lou Williams and Kyle Lowry.
Of course, those numbers helped foster the best seasons for both the Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors.
Memphis made a franchise-record seven straight playoff appearances with Gasol in town and his presence acquired at the deadline helped put Toronto over the top for a championship.
At a certain point, though, your stats have to factor into the debate. Gasol’s 11,921 career points don’t even put him in the top 250 in NBA history, while his 6,114 rebounds have him slotted at 176th, only two boards ahead of Andrew Bogut.
His value takes into account difficult-to-quantify defensive abilities, but the lack of gaudy statistical production should take Gasol down a peg.
Given his impressive basketball resume in spite of mundane numbers, a more appropriate placement for Gasol should be just inside — or debatably outside — the top-10. He’s a three-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA member.
He’s won a Defensive Player of the Year trophy and now has an NBA championship ring, towards which he was a valuable contributor.
Those accomplishments alone could’ve secure Gasol a spot in the Hall of Fame, but his international accolades only do his case more justice. He’s won two FIBA gold medals as well as two Olympic silvers.
Throw in five other medals from EuroBasket and there’s a compelling argument to be made that Gasol is one of the best to come from overseas.
There is no definitive spot on the rankings for Gasol. That is dependant upon the placement of his peers.
At 34 years of age, there’s still time for the reigning defending champion — pick your league — to pad his numbers, but the honors on his ledger absolve him from needing to do anything more to claim his spot among the best international ballers ever.