D’Antoni Noncommital On Starters, Gasol Prefers Playing Center
While Pau Gasol struggled with injuries and his role, he showed promise at the center position in Mike D’Antoni’s offense last season. With the departure of an All-Star center, the four-time All-Star and two-time champion now has the opportunity to play his natural position.
At media day on Saturday, Gasol was asked by ESPN 710 Los Angeles about his preferred position and to no one’s surprise, he feels his best position is at the center position:
“I’d like to combine both (center and power forward positions). For the last five years or so, I’ve been more effective at the five. That’s what worked really well for me.”
While D’Antoni praised Gasol as the “best center in the NBA” yesterday, he was noncommittal about the starting line-up and will determine if Gasol starts at center during the course of preseason:
“That will be determined in preseason. Those are two good combinations (Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill). There are other combinations we can do too. There are other players out there that can play, so we’ll have to see how it fits. I guarantee I will try all that. Players will determine where they are.”
With D’Antoni expected to increase the pace of his perimeter-oriented offense, Gasol will likely start at center with Jordan Hill at power forward. There are different combinations D’Antoni has at his disposal this upcoming season and should be able to adjust accordingly to matchups.
While Gasol battled various injuries last season, he was fully cleared for basketball activities today and will look to return to All-Star form. This past season, Gasol averaged 13.7 points and 8.6 rebounds as he visibly struggled with knee tendonitis.
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