What’s wrong with the offense in a nutshell is pretty much what Kobe implied; the star players simply aren’t in their comfort zones.
To his credit, however, Mike D’Antoni decided to bring Pau Gasol off the bench in an effort to utilize him in the post more. Against Chicago, it actually somewhat worked as Pau put up 15 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in just 25 minutes.
One way I see that could possibly “fix” this is simply going back to how the Lakers know how to win.
No, not these current Lakers, but the Lakers who’ve won a championship together before: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace.
Obviously Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, and the rest of the Lakers have to become cohesive on both ends of the floor, but what has worked for Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol recently is what the Lakers need to rely on as their bread-and-butter–at least in the short term while trying to win as many games as possible and hopefully make the playoffs.
Plenty of times this season, the Lakers have been “right there” or close enough to win games–even against the likes of the Clippers and Miami Heat–but have simply collapsed at the end.
What often helped them come back or have some sort of advantage over various teams has been their half-court play.
However, after each of those games in which the Lakers eventually came up short, I’ve attributed the loss to having Gasol benched during crunch time because other than Kobe, he’s the Lakers’ best half-court player and post player.
During the championship seasons, Gasol was the other half of the “one-two punch” between him and Bryant–and obviously it worked out well.
Gasol may not be the same player athletically, but he’s still just as skilled now as he was then; he just doesn’t get positioned correctly.
Defensively, yeah, Gasol can be a liability at the power forward position. What about at the center position, though? This season, although he’s played limited time down there, Gasol has a PER (Player Efficiency Rating) 27.4 at the center position, with an opponents’ PER of 10.1 compared with a 13.0 PER at the power forward position and an opponents’ PER of 15.4
Therefore, Mike D’Antoni is right about having to play “small ball” and utilize Metta World Peace and Earl Clark defensively at the four position.
Where he’s wrong, however, at least in my opinion, is how he’s not utilizing Pau Gasol.
Those numbers I stated about Gasol are actually better than Dwight Howard’s, but because Gasol’s minutes at center were limited, I won’t put too much emphasis on that.
However, it’s a known fact that Gasol is far more skilled and polished offensively in the post than Howard, and more so than most of the league’s big men.
Additionally, while Gasol may not be the best help defender, he’s not the worst position defender, either.
In fact, he virtually shut down Dwight Howard in the 2009 NBA Finals, but I’ll once again acknowledge that he’s not the same player athletically and won’t put too much emphasis on that, either.
Now let’s take a look at what can help the Lakers finish off ballgames.
Next Page: The “Fix”