Year I without the Gasols in the NBA

With Pau Gasol retired and his brother Marc still not revealing the unknown about their future, the NBA started without a surname that has been illustrious in the competition in the last two decades. Three rings, nine All Star Games and six appearances in the best five of the campaign. That is the brilliant record of the centers of Sant Boi in his extensive career in North American basketball. Absent them as the pennant of the Spanish players in the best league in the world, it will be others who will try to take the witness of these achievements. It will not be easy for them. The NBA started with six Spaniards in the competition. With illustrious people like Ricky Rubio and Serge Ibaka, newcomers like Usman Garuba and Santi Aldama and players who have to step up like the Hernangómez. Each case has very particular connotations but, sooner or later, none of them are presented with an easy campaign.

Rubio, the nomad. Very bright in his last tournaments with the Spanish team, in which he was the most outstanding player in both the 2019 World Cup and the Tokyo Games, the Masnou point guard begins another adventure in the league. Now he has had a move to Cleveland after a short and rather discreet second spell with the Timberwolves. In Minnesota it was released, grew, enjoyed and suffered for six seasons. But since then he has been through Utah, through Phoenix and again through the Wolves. From one side to the other just when his basketball is experiencing a moment of splendorous maturity, at least when he plays under the command of Sergio Scariolo who transmits unlimited confidence. Just the one that is lacking in the NBA. Now, Cleveland, another project under construction, another youth team. It does not seem like an ideal place for Rubio in his last year of contract. We will have to see what happens to him next summer.

Rubio and Ibaka end their contract, Garuba and Aldama make their debut and the Hernangómez play it

Ibaka, in the infirmary. He also has only a one-year contract with the Clippers. He is aware of when he can return to the slopes. He is already exercising alone, but his reappearance does not seem close. The Hispanic-Congolese has had a back injury since March for which he underwent surgery in June. At full capacity he continues to be a very useful player for the Los Angeles franchise.

W. Hernangómez, another revalidation. More is always expected from the pivot, but he does not usually have excessive minutes or much game is distributed to him. He faces his second season in New Orleans and has his new coach, Willie Green. Part with the opportunity to convince you. A priori it has to be the substitute for Jonas Valanciunas.

Juancho Hernangómez, of the Celtics

Maddie Meyer / AFP

J. Hernangómez, pioneer in the Celtics. It did not come out in the best way for the Timberwolves, who did not allow him to rush his options to participate in the Games with Spain, and in the end he went to call a historic one like the Boston team. He is the first Spaniard to defend the jersey of the most successful team in the NBA together with the Lakers. His claw can be a factor that benefits him on a court that always rewards self-esteem, but to succeed he must also be effective from long distance.

Garuba, complex premiere. With little background in the elite of Spanish basketball, although he was in the Games, the 19-year-old ex-Madridista has landed in the Rockets. At the moment, its shortcomings have been emphasized more, especially in the exterior shot, than its virtues. Depending on how the season is going, it may be that Houston will make him burn in the development league.


Garuba’s plug (Rockets)

Tim Warner / AFP

Aldama, from the ‘college’ to the NBA. He is the first Spaniard to make the leap to the league from the American university system. His father, of the same name, was a player, among others, for CAI Zaragoza, and an Olympian in Barcelona’92. Young and to be done, his presence allows us to continue with the Spanish connection in Memphis.


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