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Toronto Raptors

NBA Trade Deadline: What does Marc Gasol bring to the Toronto Raptors?

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Marc Gasol (NBA Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors weren't going to let the trade deadline pass without making a move.

Following their win over the Atlanta Hawks, the Raptors announced that they have acquired Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright and CJ Miles. A 2024 second-round pick is also included in the deal.

Gasol isn't the player he once was - a three-time All-Star and a perennial All-NBA candidate - but the Spaniard has the potential to be what Valanciunas was and more.

Here's why.

What Gasol brings to the Raptors

Gasol has long been one of the most well-rounded big men in the entire league.

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His scoring has dropped off in recent years, but Gasol has still been good for 15.7 points per game this season, more than what Valanciunas has ever averaged and slightly less than what Ibaka is posting in what has been a career year.

Like Ibaka, Gasol does a lot of that scoring from midrange. Unlike Ibaka, he's also developed into a reliable threat from 3-point range.

MORE: When will Gasol make his debut?

Since the 2016-17 season, Gasol has been good for 1.4 3-pointers per game, doing so at a 35.7 percent clip. According to Basketball Reference, the only centre to have made more 3-pointers over those three seasons is Milwaukee Bucks big man Brook Lopez.

Gasol's shooting should make him a natural fit alongside Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard. His comfort spotting up on the 3-point line will draw opposing centres out of the paint and he'll give them another pick-and-pop threat, albeit one who can venture out to the 3-point line.

Gasol is capable of creating his own shot with his back to the basket, too.

According to NBA.com, Gasol is generating 3.4 points per game in the post this season - roughly a quarter of his scoring - putting him behind 10 players for most in the league. He can get it done against like-sized defenders and smaller ones on switches, giving the Raptors another weapon they can go to when the game slows down.

To go along with his scoring, Gasol is an excellent passer. He's currently averaging 4.7 assists per game, the highest mark of his career and the second-most among centres this season behind only Nikola Jokic.

Even if he doesn't maintain that number for the rest of the season - going from Mike Conley to Lowry and Leonard will likely take away some of his touches he's gotten used to in Memphis - Gasol gives the Raptors another playmaker who can keep the offence moving.

That'll become in handy when he's on the floor with the second unit that has struggled with consistency this season. It'll help when he's on the floor in crunch time, too, because it'll mean the entire offence doesn't have to run almost exclusively through Leonard, who has seen his usage rate skyrocket in those situations as a Raptor.

The combination means Gasol should be able to replace Valanciunas, Wright and Miles on offence. Maybe not to the exact same extent - particularly when it comes to Miles, who is a volume 3-point shooter - but in a way that makes a three-for-one trade worth Toronto's while.

It makes even more sense for the Raptors when you consider what Gasol will bring on the other end of the court. A one-time Defensive Player of the Year, Gasol is a high IQ defender and a strong rim protector who should only help an already elite defensive team.

Much like Nick Nurse did with Valanciunas and Ibaka, he'll have the option of starting Gasol or Ibaka depending on the matchup; Gasol against bully ball centres like Joel Embiid and Ibaka against floor spacers like Brook Lopez. The two might even see more court time together than Valanciunas and Ibaka did thanks to their abilities to space the floor.

That doesn't mean there aren't risks involved in the trade for the Raptors - the most notable being Gasol has a player option in his contract next season, which he could turn down if the fit isn't as smooth as it looks on paper - but it gives them the versatility needed for a deep playoff run, even after the moves the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks made at the deadline.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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