Once it became clear that Kobe Bryant would potentially miss considerable time with the Achilles injury, the attention was directed toward Steve Nash and Pau Gasol to shoulder the load for the Los Angeles Lakers heading into the 2013-14 NBA season.
Both veterans had been the undisputed leaders for their former teams, Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns, and were more than capable of shouldering the load at one point in their careers, but now that no longer seems to be the case.
During the loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, current NBA analyst and former face of the Sacramento Kings franchise, Chris Webber, blasted Gasol for not being the elite player of old.
With only 10 points and eight rebounds in an ugly loss to the Mavs, Gasol failed to show up in Dallas and Webber had no problem calling him out via Twitter:
No he’s not a elite player- elite players get- Buckets-assist -rebounds 10 pts- 8 Rebs- no offensive boards- you are not a elite big man!
— Chris Webber (@realchriswebber) November 6, 2013
Before heading to Dallas for the first game of a three-game road trip, Gasol was putting up decent numbers. The Spanish forward averaged 15.8 points and 11.0 rebounds in the first four games of the season, but also averaged 3.3 turnovers and was shooting only 40 percent from the floor.
At this point in time, it’s safe to say Gasol is no longer the dominant force in the paint that he once was in his first few years with the Lakers. The same can be said for the 39-year-old Nash; even more so in fact. Despite that being the case, this team is dependent on product from the four-time All-Star and will need him to step it up moving forward in order to be able to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference this season.
After the first five games of the season, it has become clear that this team can be a force to be reckoned with at home and an absolute mess away from Staples Center. That may change with the return of Kobe, but right now the team is leaning on Gasol to take the reigns while the team’s leader can only watch from the bench dressed in black.
Kobe Bryant: Discussed Difficulty Of Players Staying With The Same Teams