Marc Gasol and the vision of Ujiri

The president of the Raptors took a risk in the summer to get rid of DeRozan and bring Kawhi. Time is paying off, even more so with the arrival of Marc.


Changes are always difficult to assimilate. And not only because of the complexity that can be successful with the precise moment in which they have to move certain pieces. The difficulty increases in this process if the change involves discarding something as dear and important as it was DeMar DeRozan for the Raptors and its president Masai Ujiri: a man who has changed the course and has destroyed the roof of a franchise that lived stalled after its decision making in the current season.

It all started with the debacle of the last playoffs, magnified even more after a brilliant regular season. The Raptors were first in the Eastern Conference with 59 victories from 82 games played but bid farewell to the postseason against, once again, the LeBron James Cavs. It was the third time in a row (the first in the Eastern finals and the next two in the semifinals) that the Canadian block could not match the Cleveland ones, and this time everything was in their favor so that the history would not be repeated. They enjoyed the field factor and faced the 'worst' Cavs of recent years, however they fell with a resounding 4-0 that was decisive for its president to take drastic decisions.

After that, last summer there was the most important exchange of the franchise, both sentimentally and in the relevance of the players involved. DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl marched to San Antonio in exchange for Danny Green and a Kawhi Leonard who came to Toronto against his will and after being almost a year injured. The decision of Ujiri was as risky as criticized in his day but at this moment no one regrets. The forward is performing at a stratospheric level, being able to lead his team to break down the barrier with which so much time has been hit: be in an NBA finals.

Kawhi has been largely to blame for that, but may not have been enough if Ujiri had settled for what he had in the middle of this season. In the winter market the Nigerian took another step. Equally risky, since it was detached from Jonas Valanciunas, CJ Miles and Delon Wright. His starting center and two players who contributed depth to the bench in exchange for a pivot of 34 years (7 more than the Lithuanian) that, definitely, is turning out to be decisive for the Raptors: Marc Gasol.

The contribution of Gasol in data to the Raptors

The Toronto block had the 5th best rating in the league, 7th in attack and 8th in defense in the 56 games played without the Spanish. After their arrival, the Raptors reached the 4th best rating, and although they lowered their efficiency in attack (8th), the elevaron enormously in their own ring (3rd) .

It is true that in recent months the low percentage of annotation has been called and shot of the pivot with respect to their numbers in Memphis, and even more if one speaks of a player who does not lack offensive resources. However, his role under the command of Nick Nurse is being different: focused on the defense of tall men and on generating more facilities and shooting options for his teammates. Two aspects that have also improved since their arrival in Canada, as the Raptors have ended up being the best team in the competition in percentage of triples scored (34.5%) and the 4th in assists (65.5%). In his first duel of the Finals against the Warriors, efficiency from the triple was 39% (13-33) and the Raptors came to hand out 25 assists, three more than the average they have signed in these playoffs.

The Spanish, like Kawhi and the rest of his colleagues, to a greater or lesser extent, brings these small gears to the Canadian machinery. One that works a thousand wonders and that shows it based on game and result, boasting that differential factor that lacked in the past. And they do it thanks to the decisions of a president who risked changing the outcome of this story. Because without risk there is no reward.



Photos from as.com

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