How Pau Gasol Is Fitting In With The Spurs

The Spurs signed Pau Gasol to a two-year, $30MM deal over the summer and he began the year in the starting lineup, something he’s done at every stop during his career. Yet, since coming back from a hand injury in February, he’s come off the bench. That’s not something that bothers the big man; he’s more concerned with winning.

“Right now we’re the second-best record in the league and we’re in a good spot,” Gasol said (via Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press). “That was the key reason why I came here.”

His 3-point range is giving the Spurs exactly what they need as they get set for another playoff run. He’s taking more shots from behind the arc (making 53,5% of them) than he has during any season in his entire career. “I’m trying to survive in this league that is evolving continuously,” Gasol said recently. Gasol’s ability to shoot from long-range has allowed LaMarcus Aldridge to thrive from inside the arc, Krawczynski notes.

Gregg Popovich didn’t intend for Gasol to play away from the basketball as much. “We didn’t sit him down and say now Pau, part of your role is going to be [shooting 3s],” Popovich said. “But it’s sort of evolved with the spacing and the way we do things with LaMarcus out there. It just evolved that way. He’s been successful at it so we just kind of let it roll.”

Gasol’s contract contains a player option for the 2017/18 campaign, meaning the Spaniard ostensibly could become a free agent again this offseason. However, it was previously reported that he intends to opt in and stay with the team. “My intention is to continue here, and to be here as long as I can,” Gasol said earlier this season.

The former No. 3 overall pick has been a great fit in San Antonio. He’s helped the team claim a record of 57-16, which is the second-best mark in the league.

The only team with a better record: the Warriors. The Spurs are one of two franchises that Golden State has not beaten this season (the Wizards are the other team, though the Warriors host them next weekend). The Spurs won the first two meetings and they’ll play again on Wednesday night. If San Antonio makes it three straight against the defending Western Conference champs, Gasol may not get much attention, but he’ll deserve credit for how he’s altered his game for the betterment of the team.

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