Monday, November 30, 2009

What Worst Trade Ever?

So people still think the Pau Gasol trade is the worst heist in the history of the NBA? Still scratching your head about why the Grizzlies swapped the elder Gasol for Kwame Brown, Aaron Mckie, Marc Gasol, Javaris Crittenton and what basically became the draft rights to Darrell Arthur?

Please stop.

First off, Kwame and Mckie were pure salary dumps that helped put the Grizzlies in the position to get…well, they went out and got Zach Randolph. While I question that choice, in some respects I understand it, especially considering the Grizzlies drafting of Hasheem Thabeet.

You can denigrate the Thabeet selection all you want. But that was a Heisley move. So Chris Wallace, like he’s done for quite some time now, tried to make the best of it.

Yeah, Pau Gasol is a stud. He was a key component in getting the Lakers their 15th championship last season. The Lakers are a ridiculous 120-35 with the elder Gasol in the lineup. But this year has been a coming out party for the younger Gasol who is turning into a monster himself.

If you look at the trade now, you can see that despite Heisley’s best efforts it has turned out rather nicely thus far. Marc Gasol is a 25-year-old banger averaging 16 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists on 64.3 percent shooting. He’s one of only two centers (the other being Marcus Camby) in the League that is averaging at least 1.5 blocks and over a steal per game.

And he hits free throws at a 76 percent clip.

Remember, this guy was the reigning MVP of the ACB League, the second best league in the world, before coming over to the States last season.

Of those players who have played at least ten games, Marc has the highest true shooting percentage (68.8) in the NBA after Chris Paul. He’s got more double-doubles than David Lee, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. And in his last game against the Clips Sunday, Gasol dropped this statline: 26 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals on 13-18 shots.

Gasol’s PER of 22.57 ranks him 21st in the entire league and sixth amongst centers behind his brother Pau (who has only played five games), Duncan, Dwight Howard, Nazr Mohammed, and Greg Oden. Outside of the anomaly of Mohammed (we’ve seen his stud for two weeks routine before) that’s some pretty lofty company. And while Mohammed only plays 14 minutes a night, Gasol is tied for second amongst centers with Brook Lopez in minutes per game at 35.9 (the injury-prone Chris Kaman leads all centers at 36.9, just another reason why Dunleavy should be fired).

So, a Gasol for Gasol swap all by its lonesome would have been looking pretty decent now. But add to Marc the services of 28-year-old Randolph, who, despite the horrific rep, is averaging 19 points and 9 boards and 2 assists and shooting over 50 percent for the first time since his sophomore season, and we begin to see the real value of the trade.

While history tells us that Randolph’s good behavior probably won’t last, it has to be noted that he’s having the second best season of his career and the team is actually winning too.

With the Gasol/Randolph duo, Rudy Gay’s matured game and the surprising run of Jamal Tinsley (who knew?), the Grizz find themselves with a 4-1 record over their past five, which really should be a 5-game winning streak after blowing a 22-point lead against the Clips.

And this is without seeing what Arthur, who had a pretty decent rookie season but is out with a torn pectoral muscle, can bring to the table as well as who the Grizzlies will draft with the pick they had returned to them when they traded away Crittenton to the Wizards.

In five years, we could be saying that the Grizzlies got the better end of the deal, even if the Lakers win three more championships, seeing as how Pau couldn’t carry a team all by his lonesome (no one can).

So please, please, please. Let’s stop with this most lopsided trade of all time talk. That’s so, 2008…

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