The Memphis Grizzlies are serious about changing the way they play. New coach David Fizdale has benched Zach Randolph, said it doesn't make sense to play him and Marc Gasol together and installed a completely new offense that don't treat post-ups as the first priority. As part of this new, much more modern style, Gasol has been encouraged to shoot 3-pointers during the preseason. In a feature about the Grizzlies' transition, Sports Illustrated's Rob Mahoney reported that Fizdale wants Gasol to launch four 3s every night:
Every year there are stories of some big finally adding that element to his game only to abandon it a few weeks in or shoot threes in such meager numbers that it never really registers. To contrast, Fizdale has installed three-point shooting quotas for Gasol-four attempts a night was the word in camp-and threatened to pull him from games if he passes up looks. The early results are promising; Gasol took 5.1 threes per 36 minutes in the preseason (a rate similar to what Kyle Korver, Marvin Williams, and DeMarre Carroll averaged last year) while making nearly half those shots. There may be a Boshian evolution in him yet. Already Gasol is gunning for Conley and Carter's records in team shooting games and calling out his makes with the ball still in the air.
Last season, Gasol attempted 17 3-pointers and made three of them, both career highs. This evolution, then, is a little unexpected. He's always had good form on midrange jumpers, though, and he has been less reluctant to take 3s when representing Spain in international competition. It's not necessarily a huge stretch to ask him to take a step back in an effort to space the floor, even if it looks a little weird.
If Gasol can consistently make 3s, it helps Memphis in a number of ways. Not only will it draw opposing big men away from the basket, it will allow the Grizzlies to empower their other playmakers. When they re-signed Mike Conley and signed Chandler Parsons in free agency, part of the pitch was that they were capable of increasing their usage rates significantly. That wouldn't be possible if Memphis planned to throw the ball in the post every possession or even have Gasol facilitate from the high post all the time.
Of course, the Grizzlies would be crazy to suddenly never let Gasol attack a weak defender on the block. Adding a 3-pointer to his arsenal doesn't mean he's suddenly going to turn into Channing Frye. Over the past few years, though, Memphis has been one of the more predictable teams in the league. It needed to diversify the offense, and that's exactly what Fizdale is doing.