Marc Gasol had played in a total of 651 NBA games in the years leading up to the 2016-2017 season. During that time he’d made exactly twelve 3-pointers. Something must have clicked for the 7-foot-1, 255-pound Memphis Grizzlies center this off-season, because suddenly Gasol is knocking down 3s at an astonishing rate.
Through 31 games this season, Gasol has successfully sunk 46 3-pointers. He’s currently tied for 47th in the league, placing him alongside guys like Devin Booker and LeBron James. His 3-point shooting percentage right now is better than the that of Kyrie Irving, Kyle Korver and Kevin Durant.
Gasol’s newfound 3-point skill is part of the reason why the big man is scoring more than ever before. He’s currently averaging a career-best 20.1 points per game.
How did this happen? How does a 7-foot-1 player who’s been in the league for nearly a decade suddenly start shooting 3s like Ray Allen?
The answer is first-year Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale. When Fizdale was an assistant with the Miami Heat, he saw Chris Bosh develop into a deadly outside shooter. During his first season with the Heat in 2010, Bosh attempted just three 3-pointers per game and made them at a clip of 24-percent. By last season, Bosh was launching 4.2 3-pointers per game and draining them 36.5 percent of the time.
“After what [I] saw [in Miami] with Chris Bosh and his development,” Fizdale told Bleacher Report. “I saw [what] that did for LeBron [James] and Dwyane [Wade] in those championship years, I saw an opportunity to let Mike Conley open up his game some by letting Marc step out behind the three.”
Fizdale approached Gasol about the idea shortly after he got the Memphis job. “He came to me over the summer once he got the job and told me about it,” Gasol said. “I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to start working on it.'”
Gasol didn’t have to start from square one. He had always been able to shoot the ball. He just needed to extend his range a bit. “Obviously, I always had a shot,” Gasol said. “It was just more of a 17- to 19-foot shot. Now, it’s just taking it a couple of steps back, getting a rhythm and getting comfortable with the shots.”
The results have been spectacular. Gasol is draining 3s night in, night out, including this game-winner against the Los Angeles Clippers:
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