Grading the Bulls: Pau Gasol

Grading the Bulls: Pau Gasol

Last grading: E'Twaun Moore.


While Chicago's offense rating had no real effect whether Gasol sat or played, he clearly gave the Bulls an inside dimension they'd been lacking for years. Gasol's ability to not only score inside, but set up teammates through passing from the post, or from the high post, was a valuable tool throughout the course of the season.

Adding to that was the fact that his production was unexpected. Gasol was viewed as being on his last leg following six-plus years in Los Angeles, and instead decided to score at highest raw clip (18.5 points) since the age of 30, while giving himself a career year from a rebounding perspective, where his 919 rebounds ranked third in the league.

Gasol killed it from mid-range, hitting 47.7% of his shots from beyond 16 feet, and to the three-point line. He even extended his range slightly, drilling 12 three's on 46.2%, forcing defenders to seek him out at the end of quarters where he'd place himself in the corners.


This is the area that will garner the most disagreements within the Bulls community, and rightly so. Gasol in a vacuum is no longer a good defender, but he undoubtedly has a major effect on that end of the court when he matches up against the right opponents, or is moving well. It's impossible to deny that opponents aren't thinking of his shot-blocking prowess when they come into the lane, seeing as his long arms are impossible to sneak by on a consistent basis. But opponents also know that they can downright ridicule him if they get him just a few feet too far out, and then pull up over him.

If a shot attempt against Gasol came within six feet of the basket, Gasol would force opponents to shoot, on average, 6.7% below their combined percentage. This percentage gradually worsened to 5% flat on when the field was widened to 10 feet, and turned negative at 15 feet, where Gasol would allow defenders to shoot 1.2% better.

So it's a mixed bag defensively, which goes hand-in-hand with what everyone saw out there. Only, when Gasol messed up, he frequently would do it in manners that became extremely noticeable. It's easy to notice when he doesn't pick up a switch, or is blown by, or misses a crucial rotation, whereas one might not notice how his presence close to the hoop alters shots from smaller slashers.

"Brought it factor"

Gasol brought it. He was one of the most active players on the Bulls throughout the course of the year, participating in 78 games, and consistently integrated himself in games. He only had four games in which he didn't reach double-figure scoring, and in those he compensated by rebounding, and being a playmaker. His activity in averaging over 34 minutes a night at that age proved Gasol was out to prove that he was still an elite big man, something he managed to do as he was voted an All-Star starter, as well as making the All-NBA 2nd team.

Highlight of the season

There are a few, but this one stands out as you finally realized just how determined he was to prove himself. The way he achieved his career-high is even more impressive. He went deep into his skill-set, and pulled off every trick in the book.



Nobody knows if Gasol can mimic the season he just had next year, but assuming the new offense will feature the wing players more, one can hope he'll the inside bail-out guy, for when the team needs a bucket in the half-court.

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  • Great FA signing, great cost/benefit ratio.

    Find a couple more of those, one at SF/SG!

  • Gasol was huge for the Bulls this year. But, of course, he misses games when they count against Cleveland!

    Assuming Hoyberg is the man, Bulls should move Noah, who is terrible on offense. Bulls should play smaller with Hoyberg, and having bigs that can shoot seems critical. It seems that Hoyberg will not post his bigs as much, but Mirotic and Gasol can score away from the post. I'm sure Gasol will post at least occasionally. I can see Gasol making a living of hitting long mid-range shots and 3's in the "2nd layer" of transition.

    Noah will be tough to move if he's really bone-on-bone because that could mean microfracture surgery and he'd be out a full year. The Bulls should be able to trade him away if it's not that bad and his knee can improve with rest this summer. The downside is that they'd most likely have to take back some salary.

    I absolutely LOVE Gibson and would trade Noah before Gibson all day. Gibson could play well in the 5 in Hoyberg's offense. If there will be enough minutes to go around, you keep Gibson.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Instead why not just pair Gasol with Gibson and Noah with Mirotic? I don't think the Bulls necessarily need to move Noah. I think he just needs to adjust his game to take account of his lack of offensive skills. That whole point center garbage from the 2013-2014 regular season was a gimmick in an otherwise meaningless season. Unfortunately, it went to Noah's head a bit and he tried to do too much this post-season, with disastrous results. So, if he just got back to being a demon on the offensive boards that would be fine. In any event, I don't think the Bulls can get very much value for him so any trade will not likely help that much this year anyhow. Also, though it is a bit of a cliche, I do think the team feeds off of Noah's energy. The Bulls' somewhat indifferent efforts this year I think were partially a function of the fact that Noah couldn't play with the energy he had in years past.

  • Mort, you got it right on Gasol. People see his shortcomings away from the basket on defense but ignore his effectiveness closer in.

    The problem is that Noah is also more effective closer to the basket on defense. That's why the frontcourt pairings were not rational IMO. Moreover, Noah lost all confidence in his offensive game, limited as it was to begin with.

  • I assume the new coach will have imput as to who stays and who gets traded for whom.

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