As we head into the next Los Angeles Lakers season, and a new era in Lakers basketball, the staff here at Lakers Nation has decided to take a look back and rank the 20 greatest Lakers of all-time.
Our staff analyzed the ins and out of each Lakers player, determining their impact on the franchise during their tenure there. Stemming from awards to clutch performances, many contributing players were the difference during the 16 championship runs.
This list has been trimmed down to 20 Lakers, counting down these players strictly based on their accomplishments during their time with the franchise.
Seasons With Lakers: 7
Statistics: 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 blocks, 52.2 FG%
Accolades: 2X NBA Champion (2009-10), 3x All-Star (2009-11), All-NBA Second Team (2011), 2x All-NBA Third Team (2009-10)
One of the most gifted big men to ever play basketball is Pau Gasol, who spent seven seasons with the Lakers and won the only two NBA championships of his career so far.
Los Angeles acquired Gasol in one of the more criticized trades of all-time, as the Lakers sent Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the draft rights to Marc Gasol and first round picks in 2008 and 2010 to Memphis. Gasol and a 2010 second-round draft pick were thus brought to Los Angeles, a trade that would re-define Lakers history.
Gasol and Kobe Bryant formed one of the best 1-2 punches in all of the NBA, with Gasol serving as the perfect compliment to Bryant on the court. The pair put together a stretch of consistent play that brought fear to their opponents, appearing in three consecutive NBA Finals under the guidance of head coach Phil Jackson.
The Spaniard will forever be known for his clutch performances during their playoff runs, including clutch bucket after clutch bucket. Gasol’s game-winner against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the 2010 playoffs not only saved Kobe Bryant’s miss, but also eliminated the Thunder from the playoffs.
Gasol also hit one of the most clutch shots in franchise history, with his fadeaway turnaround over three Boston Celtics during Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. That game also represented arguably the best game of Gasol’s career as he finished with 19 points, 18 rebounds, and four assists to finish off the Celtics.
Those 2010 NBA Finals served as validation for Gasol, who was labeled soft after a less than stellar 2008 Finals performance against those same Celtics. However, after averaging 18.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks in the rematch, some went so far as to argue that Gasol deserved to be Finals MVP.
Gasol headlined one of the most dominant front lines in recent decades, as he, Lamar Odom, Metta World Peace, and Andrew Bynum were physically unmatched and always outsmarted their opponents. Gasol’s basketball IQ was one to fear, as his passing abilities constantly set up his teammates for easy buckets.
Whether via lobs to Bynum, outlets to Odom, or setting up his teammates via the triangle offense, the Lakers could rest assured that Gasol would make the right decision.
While Gasol endured many tough phases while with the Lakers, he always remained the ultimate professional and was willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team. That kind of selfless attitude and play on the court can’t be taught, as Gasol fine-tuned his craft to not only become one of the most elusive big men in Lakers history, but in NBA history.
His overall influence for the country of Spain and in the NBA makes him a sure-fire future Hall of Famer, as he agreed to continue his NBA career by re-signing with the San Antonio Spurs this offseason. However, Lakers fans will always remember him during his prime with the Lakers, helping bring two more championships to Los Angeles.
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