Pau Gasol is a former Rookie of the Year, six-time NBA All-Star, four-time All-NBA selection and two time champion spanning over 18 years in the NBA. His impact on the game for big men, along with his younger twin brother Marc Gasol, has been incredible – with the usage of the forward and center spots being more versatile as the game went on. Ever since Pau Gasol was selected with the 3rd pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, he’s noticed a big shift in how the game is played.
In an interview last week with famed Spanish Newspaper Marca, the 39 year old center made his comments on the game of basketball.
It has changed a lot. For me, the big change is the game itself. There are very fast shots, very short possessions, few passes in each attack. There are many hasty shots. When I was younger, some of the shots that are attempted today would have seen the coach send you to the bench as a punishment. Now it is encouraged to shoot in the first eight seconds of possession. It has lost the beauty of the game, the purity it had, the fact of moving the ball from one side to the other, the ball inside-outside, which was to play with two in the post. Now there are times when there are teams that play with five small guys. [Mario] Hezonja played the other day as center with us.Pau Gasol, via Marca
In the modern game, passing the ball is important in ensuring a smooth offensive play style. In fact, Pau Gasol played an important role with his passing abilities in the Los Angeles Lakers last two championship rings. Big men, especially since the Gasol dominance, have played bigger and bigger roles in the playmaking scheme, but as of recent, the game has evolved to a point where big men are required to shoot if they want a contract by the end of the season.
Pau Gasol never made the jump to an outside shooter until the latter half of his career (at age 34). If he was drafted as a rookie today, his value would probably be much lower than it was back in the 2001 draft. His younger self was not as polished of a shooter as his current self, and that is not something that Pau Gasol loved.
In his quote, he stated that the NBA has lost it’s original beauty with the new 8-second scoring that most modern systems have adapted ruining the pacing of the game. A lot of items could contribute to this new fast paced style, but the most prominent new item is the rise of the 3-point shot (not only in big men, but in all positions). When the league saw the three point as their main arsenal, big men had to make the move as well. This forced faster, less timed shots, which led to possessions changing more frequently. Perhaps this was what Pau Gasol was referring to when he mentioned the beauty of the game changing.