Spin Doctors: Pau Gasol v. Marc Gasol

The Gasols are the closest thing the NBA has to the Mannings of the NFL. And similar to how Eli has elevated his game into Peyton's class, no longer is the Gasol comparison dominated by the older sibling.

In our initial fantasy rankings for the '12-'13 campaign, Pau topped Marc by a slim margin, though two of the three experts actually preferred Marc. Andy Behrens' was the bullish backer of Pau, so I'll let him get this Spanish inquisition started...

Behrens gets the Boom Boom Pau: If there's going to be a new Alpha Gasol this season, then either Marc will need to make serious gains in scoring and rebounding, or Pau will have to decline significantly. Last year, these two were separated by 2.8 points and 1.5 boards per game. Pau also shot better from the line and from the field, plus he delivered more assists. He's missed just one game over the past two seasons, and he's been a 37-minute-per-game player forever.

What's not to like?

Perhaps you're uptight about the arrival of Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison in L.A., but let's not forget that Memphis gets Zach Randolph back at full strength. Z-Bo is obviously no small addition; he's just a year removed from a 20-12 season. I'm anxious to see Pau and Steve Nash playing together with the Lakers, a pairing that should lead to plenty of high-percentage looks. And I'm not at all convinced that Pau will lose a pile of rebounds to Howard — you'll recall that Bynum averaged 11.8 boards per game last season, while Gasol brought down 10.4. There's a very good chance that L.A. will simply increase the rebounding differential this season, while both Dwight and Pau average double-digits.

Pau is an uncommonly reliable fantasy asset, a player who can afford to lose a bit of ground in his core stats yet still maintain his edge over his brother. He also offers PF/C eligibility (like half the player pool).. For me, the elder Gasol remains a plausible second-rounder, a few slots ahead of Marc.

Funston is on the Marc: Marc has yet to match his brother on a per game fantasy basis in his four seasons (although he's been pretty close, and they have similar roto skills), so I'm letting Andy argue from a position of strength. But there are factors at work this season that lead me to believe that this is Marc's year to lay claim to the Gasol fantasy crown.

Last season, Pau averaged the fewest points and free throws of his career, and had his second-lowest averages in blocks and field goal percentage. At 32, nearly five years older than Marc, Pau is at a point in his life when numbers more easily decline than improve. And with Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison in the fold, that's two new players on the court that will demand the basketball — Jamison's 16.1 FGA from last season was more than both Howard and Gasol. Also, let's not forget, the offense is now triggered by Steve Nash, who has a tendency to hog assists. In his past seven seasons, only one starter that Nash has played alongside has managed to break the 3.0 APG barrier (Boris Diaw). Pau could have problems reaching his usual 3-plus assists per night, especially if you figure Kobe is very likely to finish second on this team in helpers.

I also worry about Pau's rebounding totals. Yes, he was able to carve out double-digit boards with Andrew Bynum, but the rebounding prowess of Bynum and Howard is not a wash. Howard averaged 14.5 boards last season, 2.7 more than Bynum. And Jamison's expected glass-cleaning contributions can't be ignored, either.

If Pau drops an assist and, say, 1.5 rebounds off of his line from last season (a definite possibility), he doesn't finish ahead of Marc's fantasy value of a year ago. And remember, Marc's still at a stage in his career where improvement is expected. Those that think that past returns guarantee the same future returns are going to go with Pau in this debate. But, of course, this is fantasy, and nothing is ever exactly as it was before.

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