Five Lakers Who Will Have to Step Up in Dwight Howard’s Absence
Well, this one’s a no-brainer. Plenty of times Pau Gasol has had to fill in for Andrew Bynum at the center position, and he’s very comfortable doing so. In fact, last season his PER (Player Efficiency Rating) was higher at the center position (21.7) than it was at the power forward slot (20.1).
Similarly, his opponents’ efficiency ratings were lower when he was at the five (12.2) than when he played the four (15.6). That’s no secret, though, as he virtually shut down new teammate Dwight Howard at times during the 2009 Finals when both were basically playing the five spot (Andrew Bynum wasn’t at full strength which left Gasol to play at center for the most crucial moments).
Anyway, Gasol is the most skilled big man in the league today in my opinion, and the transition will once again be seamless for him. It could potentially benefit him as well because he’ll once again be the second option for the Lakers–at least to start the season–and will be able to develop an offensive rhythm in the process.
However, after coming off yet another long summer which included an Olympic basketball run with Spain all the way to the Gold medal game, Gasol will need some relief himself.
Additionally, he played the second most amount of total minutes of any NBA player; second only to 23-year-old superstar, Kevin Durant. So, he will definitely need some help from his teammates while he enables Howard to take his time getting back to full strength.
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