The San Antonio Spurs have managed to avoid serious concerns since Gregg Popovich took over. However, things are looking a bit worrisome over the last 48 hours. It was stated that Kawhi Leonard has been placed in the concussion protocol until further notice and LaMarcus Aldridge is out indefinitely with a heart Arrhythmia. Talk about bad breaks at the wrong time.
However, all is not lost if Pau Gasol can play to the level he should be at.
Gasol signed with the Spurs this offseason to pretty much take over the Tim Duncan role. For the past 2-3 seasons, Duncan’s skills and role began to diminish and when Gasol became available it looked as if the Spurs would have the best frontcourt in the NBA with Gasol, Aldridge, and Leonard. However, it has turned into a two-man show instead of three. Gasol signed a deal 2yr/$31M+ deal and all the Spurs have to show for it is 12 points and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes per.
Why is this such a big issue for a 36-year-old player?
Last season while with the Chicago Bulls, Gasol averaged 18 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks in 32 minutes. It would seem that somewhere between the travel from Chicago and San Antonio he lost his mojo. But, Gasol is a veteran that has played on the big stage in big games and will be there when it matters. As the Spurs head into a difficult stretch without Leonard and Aldridge they will need Gasol to put on his big boy pants and become the second coming.
Duncan was loved in San Antonio, not just for his loyalty to the team but for his commitment to excel when the Spurs needed him most. Gasol still has some of the best footwork in the NBA and has managed to shoot 51 percent from the floor this year, his highest since 2010. If Gasol can get back to just playing and not thinking he can hold the fort down until Aldridge gets healthy and by then he would have gained his confidence back. However, it’s up to Pop to unleash Gasol and start to run the offense through the post the same way he did for Duncan. Gasol is one of the best passing big men in the league and his ability to read a defense could do wonder for players like Leonard and Danny Green.
It’s not do or die for Gasol and the Spurs but it’s getting pretty close.