A Fully Utilized Pau Gasol Is Peaking At The Right Time

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers

It may not seem like it, but it’s championship time.

Moreover, one key factor that helped bring the Lakers their most recent back-to-back championships. Pau Gasol is playing the brand of basketball Los Angeles has grown to love and expect from the Spaniard. No, the Lakers aren’t the number one seed in the West and poised to dominate the playoffs, but it’s that time of year nonetheless.

He may not be averaging the 18 points and 11 rebounds he did in 2010, but after a year filled with injuries and not being utilized the way he had liked, Pau Gasol is finally being featured as an intricate part of this team’s offense.

Many fans, media pundits and seemingly even head coach Mike D’Antoni turned their respective backs on Pau Gasol and threw him under the bus early on. (Remember one of D’Antoni’s first games as coach when he benched Pau late in the game because “I was thinking I’d like to win this game, that’s what I was thinking.”)

Well, apparently the tone on Gasol has shifted across the board–especially from D’Antoni–with Kobe Bryant giving his take on why, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles:


D’Antoni said to stop using the pick-and-roll and throw the ball into the post? What?!

Everybody please check the sky for pigs soaring through it.

This is the same Mike D’Antoni who explained to Shelburne earlier in the season that Gasol should not be in the paint because “We need this space;” so let’s everyone give the man some credit here for completely going against his philosophy for the better of the team.

Previously, he had Gasol playing along the perimeter and taking jump-shots, much to Pau’s dismay.

Even Kobe Bryant tried to go along with D’Antoni’s style of play for a while, even suggesting that Gasol had to adjust like everyone else. However, once things didn’t appear to be working out, he famously declared, “We need to go back to the basics” and gave his take on what each player’s role should be.

In the meantime, Gasol caught plenty of flack from various individuals.

—- Test your knowledge of Pau Gasol by taking this quiz about the Lakers big man! —-

For the record (and to say “I told you so!” to the many commenters who disagreed with my opinions either respectfully or otherwise earlier in the year), I came out in November and stated why the Lakers should not trade Pau Gasol.

Then in December, I explained why Pau Gasol should not be sent to the bench, either, and must be effective alongside Dwight Howard.

I later softened my stance on this as Earl Clark’s emergence drastically enabled certain styles of play for the Lakers.

Finally, in January when the Lakers were struggling and couldn’t close out games, I gave a solution to this by suggesting Pau Gasol be utilized in the half-court set.

Well, here we are in April, and while the Lakers aren’t exactly dominating the league, they’re currently in the eighth and final playoff slot. More importantly, they’re finally using Pau Gasol in a way that can actually win them ballgames in the playoffs.

Next Page: Why Running The Offense Through Pau Helps The Team

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