- Pau Gasol’s greatest strength is his ability to get his teammates involved with his passing. He had a fantastic assist ratio of 31.5% last season, which was 7th in the league – the 2nd highest amongst bigs trailing only Draymond Green.
- Although he is not necessarily the physical presence on the inside like he was earlier in his career, Gasol has made up for that with excellent shooting touch in the mid-range and behind the arc. Shooting 38.1% from mid-range and 35.8% from 3 last season, Gasol excels in pick-and-pop sets where he uses his experience and IQ to find the open space on the floor and knock down the open look.
- Besides Manu Ginobili (assuming he comes back this season), Gasol now brings the most championship experience to the roster. And with the recent departures of Tony Parker and Danny Green, Gasol provides something that is now in short supply in San Antonio, veteran leadership.
- Gasol is also great at rebounding on the defensive end. Although not as athletically imposing as other bigs in the league, Gasol uses his basketball IQ to his advantage. Consistently getting in good position and using his size to box his man out led to him being 6th in the league in Defensive Rebound Percentage at 29.7% last season.
- As mentioned before, Gasol is lacking in athleticism and gets beat off the dribble consistently due to his slow foot speed. And in a league that requires bigs to come out and guard the perimeter more and more, this is a huge disadvantage.
- Although he excels in defensive rebounding, Gasol is a surprisingly weak offensive rebounder. Last year, Gasol actually ranked just behind Jrue Holiday and James Harden in Offensive Rebound Percentage at 2.5%.
- Jakob Poeltl is a skilled 7-footer that uses his size and athleticism well to crash the offensive glass. Playing in the shadow of Jonas Valanciunas, Poeltl still managed to be 6th in the league in offensive rebound percentage at 12.5% last season.
- Because of his size and athleticism, Poeltl is an excellent shot blocker and defender. In only 18 minutes per game last year, Poeltl averaged 1.2 blocks, which would have been tied with LaMarcus Aldridge for the team lead.
- Poeltl is also a strong finisher around the rim shooting 68.3% inside of eight feet. This makes him an effective option in pick-and-roll sets. This will be very valuable for the Spurs going forward as they have not had a legitimate big that can roll to the rim since Dewayne Dedmon.
- Like many shot-blocking bigs in the league, Poeltl also has a tendency to get into foul trouble. Because his role will most likely expand this coming season, this will be something he needs to work on if he wants to be on the floor more.
- With only two years of experience under his belt, Poeltl is still very inexperienced. This inexperience often shows in the form of turnovers with an assist to turnover ratio of just 0.67.
- Poeltl also lacks the shooting touch of Gasol, but, given what his role will be with the Spurs going forward, this will not be a hindrance.
In terms of their play style, Gasol and Poeltl are opposites in many ways. Gasol is a great defensive rebounder that excels with his high IQ and shooting touch, but he lacks athleticism and finishing ability around the rim. Poeltl on the other hand is a great offensive rebounder who uses his strength and athleticism to block shots and finish around the rim, but he lacks experience and shooting touch.
Last season one of the biggest holes on the Spurs roster was the lack of an athletic big man to block shots and roll to the rim effectively. With Poeltl as the only big man that currently fills this hole, similar to Dedmon a few years back, expect him to earn minutes very quickly and possibly have a shot at taking the starting center position during the season.