One of the biggest offseason additions for the Los Angeles Lakers was signing veteran center Marc Gasol.
Though not the athlete that Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee are, Gasol still remains an excellent paint defender while also providing completely different elements offensively that they don’t.
Gasol’s paint defense has remained solid as he is averaging 1.5 blocks despite playing less than 20 minutes a game for the first time in his career, and also shooting around league average from three-point range.
Gasol has had his struggles on defense, particularly with foul issues and handling quicker big men, but is overall happy with how the Lakers defense looks as a whole.
“I’m very happy defensively how the team looks and can really take the next step,” Gasol said. “Very deep team, a lot of size, a lot of options, great guys that have the right mindset, team-first guys, great leadership, great coaching. All positive. It’s been a really good first couple months.”
The Lakers currently rank first in the NBA in defensive rating and second in points allowed, so despite some concerns and room for improvement that has been outlined, the team remains effective and has been downright dominant at times on that end.
Offensively, Gasol has struggled to completely fit as he’s averaging less than two assists per game despite some flashes of his amazing court vision. But Gasol is simply hopeful that his presence can help Anthony Davis dominate even more.
“Hopefully the way I play helps him a little bit. I hope so,” Gasol added. “I like to think so. I like to think the spacing I create outside with passing and shooting helps him. That’s a question for him or coach. But they still play me, so that means I do some things right.”
Even at his advanced age Gasol still brings a lot to the table and there have been moments where that is clear to see. Things haven’t completely come together just yet, but it also remains early in the season and the Lakers have plenty of time to properly implement Gasol’s next level passing ability.
But in the end it’s about winning and Gasol believes the Lakers can do that in any number of ways. “We kind of play to what the defense is giving us,” the big man noted. “Try to take advantage and create spacing for ‘Bron and A.D. to kind of operate and decide how the offense is going to look.
“Sometimes it’s going to be with 3s, but the main focus is attacking the paint. Once you get into the paint you make your decision to see who’s open: if it’s the guy driving or the guy posting up, or where the help is coming from, if they’re doubling.”
Gasol’s IQ is on full display here and with time the Lakers hope to take more advantage of that to take them to an even higher level.
Anthony Davis ‘learning a lot’ from Gasol
While Gasol’s own numbers aren’t eye-popping he is undoubtedly having an impact on the roster with Davis soaking in as much knowledge as he can, particularly as a passer.
“I’ve been learning a lot as far as a passing big from the top, the elbow, from the post,” Davis said. “Just trying to figure out ways to steal that from him and also ‘Bron talking to me about that over the last couple years. Just trying to get better and continuously add to my game.”
Davis’ 3.5 assists per game are the second-highest number in his career.
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