Marc Gasol On Pace For Rare Combo

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Hack-a-Shaq. … Dwight Howard: Clang! … Wilt Chamberlain trying underhanded attempts, failing, then planting himself two feet behind the line to casually flip up free throws, his face a mix of disdain and embarrassment.

Basketball, like most endeavors, has its share of stereotypes. And those that hang over this sport – white men can’t jump, Euros play soft, the last five minutes of an NBA game are all that matter – are like most in that they often contain some measure of truth but fail as generalizations.

So it is with the “big men are lousy free throw shooters” assumption. Many big men – Shaquille O’Neal, Howard, Chamberlain, Tim Duncan for vast chunks of his career – are or have been.

But then there is Marc Gasol, who is anything but. The Memphis center, in fact, is accurate enough from the foul line that he has a shot at making NBA history this season. He could become the first player to finish in the top 10 in both blocked shots and free-throw percentage.

It’s a weird combo on the order of the Olympics’ biathlon – skiing and shooting – but it is perfectly legit in Gasol’s case. As of Sunday morning, the 27-year-old from Barcelona ranked 10th in blocks (1.85) and 11th in free-throw percentage (.873).

He dipped a little in both Saturday night in Chicago after swatting just one Bulls shot and missing three of his eight free throws. But then, the Grizzlies did win, with Gasol scoring eight points and grabbing three rebounds in the fourth quarter and overtime.

With 2:01 left in regulation, tied at 72-72, Gasol missed twice. That enabled the Bulls to grab a short-lived lead. But the big guy was back there 54 seconds later, and fans at United Center were disappointed when he snapped back to his accurate ways. “The first set, I was thinking to myself, ‘What the hell?’ ” Gasol said. “But I got another chance and made both. Got back to normal.”

Gasol said his work at the line hasn’t fit the cliché of thousands of free throws in an otherwise empty gym. “It’s all in your head, really,” he said. “Concentration, keep the rhythm and just follow through. Keep your routine.

“My first three or four years, I was around the 70s, 75 [percent]. I never liked that. I always thought I had great hands, great touch, so I guess as you get older, you concentrate a little better.”

Even if Gasol doesn’t crack the top 10 in both categories – he was fifth last season in blocks – he could become only the third 7-footer in NBA history to shoot at least 88 percent from the foul line.

The others? Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki has done it seven times and Jack Sikma, who did it three times in his final four seasons with Milwaukee. Sikma hit 84.9 percent of his free throws over 14 seasons.

Gasol’s brother Pau is no slacker among the 7-footers, making 75.2 percent overall with a high of 82.3 in 2010-11.

Said Marc Gasol: “I’m not looking to any stats or anything. I’m just trying to play the game the way I see it and help my team win. It sounds like a cop-out but it’s the honest truth.”

Thwarts any Maul-a-Marc brainstorms, too.

67 Comments

  1. MemphisMempshis says:

    Lakers Suuuuuuck

  2. Cuppa Joe says:

    lol, Lakers will always be talked about, even on ESPN. Even over teams who are doing better like the Clippers,etc.

  3. Max says:

    Great article by Steve A. at BR. Gasol brothers, give their all on the basketball court. Watched the two play together in the FiBA games. They just come to play, no :HOT AIR: just seemed to love playing the game. Watched each grow better each year, and seem to make great team mates! I vote for Marc to join brother Pau in Laker Land!!

  4. Chester says:

    i agree shooting the free throws is mostly mental especially when it comes to dwight. in practice stan van gundy use to say dwight would hit 75 or more out of 100. but obviously come game time he loses all that form.

  5. sirsparhawk says:

    Never understood why bigmen cant shoot freethrows. Dirk and Marc are one of the main reasons why I believe its all mental.

  6. sirsparhawk says:

    I Always said that it makes no sense why bigmen cant shoot free throws, dirk and marc prove its all mental.

  7. spur forever says:

    duncan the greatest power forward not only in single season.ever play in nba .despite the free throw shooting stats.

  8. Matthew says:

    How did people start posting about LA anyway…. random much?

  9. Stranger says:

    Wow, you must be kidding me, Is this really the NBA? or something else?

  10. alexnoel says:

    Marc Gasol is awesome…(non laker comment)

  11. all for one says:

    aschburner just doesn’t like duncan, if you look at the stats, duncan has only one season shooting below 60 percent. and he only misses that mark by one tenth a percentage point. i’m surprised russell isn’t even mentioned as he has shot less than 60 percent his entire career as opposed to duncan’s 69 percent mark. though karl malone was a better FT shooter in his career, he’s had more sub-60 percent seasons than duncan including making less that half his attempts in his rookie season

  12. big cat says:

    marc gasol is 7 ‘ 2 , one of the biggest dudes in the league , best center in the league hands down

  13. JustCallMeKD says:

    Trade Pau Gasol for Amar’e Stoudemire.

  14. LA FAKER'S!!! says:

    Just Cry L.A Fans!!!

  15. FANATIC says:

    LAKERS GET PAT RILEY…

  16. nick says:

    Tim Duncan shoots free throws at 70% for his career what are you on about calling him a bad free throw shooter

    • sirsparhawk says:

      To be fair, he is comparing him to dirk and marc, which in that case, many non centers are bad freethrow shooters as well.

  17. Abel says:

    Lakers should hire Stan van Gundy as coach lol

  18. Kanye East says:

    Tim Duncan’s not a bad freethrow shooter.

  19. LUGA KA says:

    @kobeballhog
    Don’t be like that… They can give any team a hard time on playoffs, Especially on D-LEAGUE!!!! BUT they won’t win Either…LOLs!!!!

  20. aj says:

    How is he on pace if he’s 11th

  21. Bob M says:

    Pau is a better player than Marc. However, Marc is better than Roy Hibbert or Kendrick Perkins. Trade Pau and stop trying to hang D:Antoni. When Kupchak gets some pieces for a running team, the Laker fate will be an excellent one.

  22. kobeballhog says:

    the fakers are losing because kobe is a BIG BALL HOG!!! nobody is moving around because they know they won’t get the ball anyway. lebron did good with the cavs and coach brown. KOBE+Brown=FAIL! see the difference faker fans?

  23. Kiddo says:

    you can not blame it to one person. lakers was defeated by TOR not only because this ejection. poor of defense, poor of points, rich of turnovers. this is the team fault. I rather blame to poor FG prct of kobe than the ejection. same like the game vs heat, he only put 4 points in the first half. even I don’t like metta, but this man still productive for lakers. lakers has 4 difficult games ahead, while 2 of them are at home. lakers will tie win-loose record at home court.

  24. Tmac says:

    yao ming never was in the top 10 in blocks and free throw percentage?

    • RJ says:

      Yao’s block numbers were never ridiculous, though close to 2 bpg like Gasol’s, but more guys were averaging over 2 blocks a game then. And I don’t think he shot quite that high a free throw percentage usually.

  25. Steve Nash says:

    If only kobe stops taking bad shots we couldve won against the Miami and Toronto :( i regret joining the team

  26. LOLakers says:

    Back on topic,

    Ok, 87% is pretty impressive for a guy that plays center, but seriously, I never understood why it’s acceptable for your big guy to miss half of his free throws. How can any team accept that the person that averages 10 trips to the line a night also miss 5 of those shots every night? There’s some misconception that if you can be dominant in the paint and go 25/10 every night then it’s okay to be an atrocious free throw shooter. If Yao Ming can average above 80% of his career there’s no real reason any 7-footer who dedicates his entire life to the game can’t make ~70% other than laziness and disregard for the importance for FTs.

    • RJ says:

      Look up combine measurements. Big men, (especially black guys) have bigger hands. It’s a fact. Asians generally have pretty small hands, so Yao probably didn’t have much, if any bigger hands than Your average 7′ white guy, who has smaller hands than your average 7′ black guy.. For some guys, it’s like throwing a volleyball or even a softball sized ball for most of us. Some develop a touch when they’re younger and are able to overcome it, some work hard and overcome it somewhat, others don’t.

      That’s pretty much the explanation.

  27. kno-it-all says:

    its not the lakers coach its the team, they just aren’t good!

  28. jerikobe says:

    marc and zach are great combo big men, why howard and pau can’t do it? coz their coach sux

  29. sunra says:

    lakers got smashed by the raptors today ahhaahahahahaahahah , no post season for u

  30. big cat says:

    marc gasol the best center in the nba hands down, I remember when Memphis traded pau gasol to the lakers for Kwame brown and for pau’s virtual unknown brother marc , people at the time thought the grizz totally got fleeced but if you ask now I think most people would take marc over pau in a second.

  31. GT says:

    Can the people who moderate this actually read the comments before posting them as this has turned into a LA comments page and ruined an otherwise good piece on Gasol with nonsense.

    I might as well follow suit and ask where the full episodes of inside the nba has gone rather than comment about an otherwise informative piece.

  32. What about Noah ? says:

    Joakim Noah is 2.0 blocks per game (1.8 for Gasol) and 80% FT (88 for Gasol). It’s not that kind of rare ability from Gasol is it ?

    • National says:

      Cause Noah is nowhere close to reach the top 10 in FT% and Gasol is and the combination of top 10 in both the Block and FT% is a rare occasion.

      But Noah is a great player maybe next year he will get close to do the same thing Gasol is doing right now.

    • RJ says:

      80% from the line is like maybe in the top 75 players. 87% is pretty much always in the top 15. So it’s a big difference. Talking about basically 9 out of 10. But yeah, 80% is very impressive for a 7 footer, too, but not historic.

  33. danito says:

    they cant get rid of him this year, they are already paying mike brown for the rest of the year, if they fire antonio they have to pay him for the rest of the year, then they have to pay the new coach . it doesnt work like that, there is a budget its not like they picking money out of the tree.

  34. bring back says:

    bernie!

  35. WILKSY08 says:

    Lets talk Memhpis not LA!

  36. Michael says:

    Full credit to Mark Gasol, but I think it’s unfair to put Duncan in the same group as Shaq, Howard, and Wilt. Duncan is a career 69% free-throw shooter; none of the other three could hit them that accurately for even one season. (Howard’s rookie year was closest at 67%.) And Timmy’s good for 82% of his free throws this season.

    • Mark says:

      Thank you for saying that. I agree.

    • NBA Fan says:

      guess you can’t read quite well. the sentence makes it clear as to why Duncan is there. It says that Duncan was a bad free throw shooter for a substantial part of his career. Of course he shoots them better now and that is also why his career average is better.

      • Michael says:

        I read very well. Aschburner said, “vast chunks of his career”. As RJ pointed out, Duncan only shot less than 66% in four out of 16 seasons! How is that a vast chunk?

    • RJ says:

      He said Duncan for parts of his career, but he was never even that bad for a year. his lowest was .599 in 03-04. And aside from that, only 3 other years between .618 and .637. That’s really not bad for a low point for a guy who’s 6’11″.

  37. james says:

    if you truly call yourselves a “lakers fan” you should know that phil said himself he’ll never coach again

  38. Realistic says:

    For all you Lakers fans, Phil Jackson is not coming back to coach any other NBA team anymore. he said it in numerous interviews that he is done even if Lakers beg for him. Its time to look for another coach.

  39. Seriously? says:

    Lol people still think the Lakers are going to make the playoffs.

  40. germany says:

    They have already fired one coach, one of the best Defensive coaches of all time, they can’t afford to fire another one – Daniel. They have to play the season out….They will make the playoffs and that’s it. First round it’s over……???

    • BJ says:

      they should have played the season out with the first coach. but they fired him after 4 games. Dántoni has lost far more than that since he has taken over and he’s still there. Oh I wonder why.

  41. Nash fan says:

    trade NASH to the GRIZZZ!!! LOL

  42. Josh says:

    Fire D’ Antoni. NOW. Get Phil back like you should have done in the first place.

  43. daniel.b says:

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