It is safe to say this Lakers squad so far is not what many fans are used to seeing. Kobe Bryant is still without a timetable to return from his Achilles injury and Steve Nash is far from his former self, leaving the Lakers with Pau Gasol as a centerpiece. The starting line-up has switched up already and they’re only six games into the season, which goes to show coach D’Antoni is still experimenting with all the guys on the squad. But through three games it is clear the offense is running through Pau Gasol and he is of key importance to the Lakers’ success this season.
Until Kobe Bryant returns Pau Gasol will be the number one option to go through on offense and thus far he has proven to be effective with 10.4 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1 bpg, and
14.6 ppg in an average of 27 minutes of action. Gasol’s numbers should be a little bit higher for a more effective and efficient offense, but they aren’t bad and are an improvement from last season. Gasol is a true talent, his post moves are fantastic, he has a high basketball IQ, and is one of the best passing big men the game has ever seen. With someone of his caliber down low on the block, the Lakers would be ignorant not to use him to his full potential.
It is clear he is more involved in the offense this season than last season, partly because he dealt with numerous injuries last season, and also because of the departure of Dwight Howard. With Gasol having more room to work down low, and a clean bill of health, the Lakers need to take advantage of their big man.
Gasol should comfortably average about 18 ppg and 12 rpg this season with the way the Lakers are currently situated. These kind of numbers could be even higher if things go better than expected in the current system.
The Lakers are clearly still searching for an identity under head coach Mike D’Antoni and they are still without their veteran leader in Kobe Bryant. Gasol is the most seasoned veteran on the team and is the largest embodiment of the 2009 and 2010 championship Lakers squads. With him leading the way, the Lakers should find success by following the 7-foot Spaniard. If they underutilize Pau again, however, they will find their season ending in a similar fashion to last year’s disastrous finish.