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Lakers News: Mike D’Antoni Calls Pau Gasol ‘Best Center In The NBA’ Reviewed by Momizat on . Much was made last season of Mike D'Antoni's usage of Pau Gasol last season. He never seemed to fully be able to integrate Gasol into his offense in the same li Much was made last season of Mike D'Antoni's usage of Pau Gasol last season. He never seemed to fully be able to integrate Gasol into his offense in the same li Rating:
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Lakers News: Mike D’Antoni Calls Pau Gasol ‘Best Center In The NBA’

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pau-gasolMuch was made last season of Mike D’Antoni’s usage of Pau Gasol last season. He never seemed to fully be able to integrate Gasol into his offense in the same lineup with Dwight Howard which led to Gasol coming off the bench at one point last season.

With Howard gone, Gasol will assume the starting center role for the Lakers next season and will be a focal point for the offense. D’Antoni is looking forward to this coming season and,in an interview with Mike Trudell, heaped lots of praise on his big man:

But let me say this about Pau Gasol: to me, he’s the best center in the NBA. I can say that now, and whether I’m totally 100 percent right, people can argue with me. They may rank him second, or third, or eighth. I don’t know, but his pedigree is he wins at everything he does. He has two championships (and international titles). I don’t think there’s even an argument about who the most skilled big man is, when you put it all together.

Gasol’s skills and talents have never been in question and even though his numbers have dipped over the last couple of years, Gasol is still consistently mentioned amongst the elite big men in the NBA for his scoring abilities, as well as his top notch passing.

This season Gasol has a chance to really cement himself as the best center in the NBA, a title now often given to his younger brother Marc. If he is able to prove his coach right, the Lakers will be very thankful for it.

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About The Author

Corey is currently a full-time staff writer for Lakers Nation. He is a passionate follower of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Cowboys and can usually be seen arguing the merits of Kobe Bryant or cursing the decisions of Jerry Jones. He is also a former producer and associate producer for Sirius XM Sports Radio. Follow him on twitter @TheeCoreyH

Number of Entries : 879
  • The Rock

    Mike D’Anoni is a very smart man.Yes Pau Gasol is a top tier big man!

    • Paytc

      That’s a fair evaluation because truthfully there is a shortage of quality 7 footers.
      That’s why even though D12 has no offensive skills he also is considered one of the best .

      But hopefully with this being Gasol’s contract year he “STEPS UP ” and validates MDA’s words in a major way.

      Go Lakers!

      • The Rock

        Yeah it is a treat for us to have Pau Gasol.He makes it fun.Entertainer Pau!

        • Paytc

          The Rock,

          Yes sir I do agree with you. I hope Pau will return healthy because if so he will be heavily called on with D12 out of the picture. It will also help he and all his loyal supporter be able to watch him put “effort over excuses”. What more can we look forward to than Pau returning in a big way !

          Go Pau! Go Lakers !

  • Jim213

    LOL… he’s a PF but actions speak louder. Like Paytc’s mentioned… put up or ship out!

    • Daryl Peek

      Who needs to put up?

      • Jim213

        That was quick…

        Was waiting for DP… It’s not hating on Pau but it’s more of a decision move by Dumbtoni that hopefully helps the team. But Gasol has also brought up that he has to play better though the coaches words just seem to raise the bar for Pau and the upcoming season.

        • Daryl Peek

          Pau is in a contract season and has no one in front of him that he’s being asked to defer to, for the first time in three years. Injury was a big part of his first ever production dip in his career last season. I fully expect 18/10/3/1.5 from Pau this year. That’s all-star numbers.

          • Jim213

            We’ve argued through out the months about Pau but hopefully he can prove the coach right to remain with the team. Otherwise, if things don’t pan out like we believe before the trade deadline he may be placed on rumorville again.

          • Daryl Peek

            There’s nothing to argue the way I see it. The proof is in his numbers. Given the Cap plight we face, everyone but Kobe will be a trade consideration come Feb.

          • Jim213

            If Gasol ends up having an all star type of season at first I’d say that Nash would be placed on the trade block if he has a mediocre type of season or if he reinjuries himself (thus waive possibility).

      • Paytc

        The answer is everybody !

        Why only have 1 or 2 doing all the heavy lifting? When the load is shared its less likely for any of our players (especially vets) to burn out and/or get injured.

        The catch phrase is “STEP UP” or shut up and get out of the way for someone who will :)

        Go Lakers!

        • Daryl Peek

          Everyone goal is to step up. That’s a given every season. Which of the Lakers can be cited as sand baggin’ previously Paytc?

          • Daryl Peek

            Not having to compete for post touches is a motivating factor. Better health is an even bigger factor. His lack of production had nothing to do with not being motivated. That’s my point.

    • richard

      Yes, a PF that has played a lot of C positions and has been very very effective on it. He doesn’t need any more motivation, he is the #1 Center of this team, he will always play hard since his Memphis days. And that is telling a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised if he average 18-10-5… his assist number will go up mainly because of the personnel around him that can shoot the ball well. I am not worried about validation at all. 2 rings and international titles are more than enough, and he is only 33.

      • Daryl Peek

        I agree with everything you said except Pau’s assist numbers. They have the potential to go up but that would mean Nash is not running the show. I expect Nash to be back to his double, double ways. Pau will settle in at about 3 assist a game.

        • Jim213

          Gasol has mentioned that he hasn’t played up to par but will see what takes place given that everyone will mostly be playing for a future spot.

          • Daryl Peek

            Of course he’s gonna say that. When has Gasol ever been the type to blame others? He’s always taken the hits. Last season was the first time we ever heard him grumble about being moved out of the post. That was three years of frustration and injuries talking.

          • Jim213

            C’mon Daryl. You even posted a pic of him which Pau seems to be in better shape than the past few years.

          • Daryl Peek

            Why do you keep trying to make it seem like Pau has been slacking? Last season was the first time his production dropped well below his career averages, across the board. Injury and Howard were the biggest factors in that.

          • Jim213

            Have to believe what Pau say’s which seems to have
            motivated him more so than the last previous season. Both DH and Pau
            couldn’t co-exist within the paint but seems like the coach is just
            placing more fuel in the fire which places more burden on Pau who’ll be
            switching positions. IMO

          • Daryl Peek

            That has nothing to do with his mental make up. The one thing Pau is, is consistent. He always does what the coach asks of him. His passive nature is what makes him the perfect partner to Kobe. Again, Pau will say the right things in public and always take the blame.

          • Jim213

            We disagree, but he looks more motivated now than before which maybe b/c DH is gone thankfully allowing him the chance to play his usual form. Unless you disagree too.

          • Daryl Peek

            Not having to compete for post touches is a motivating factor. Better health is an even bigger factor. His lack of production had nothing to do with not being motivated tho. That’s my point.

            And as The coach himself said “Even with Dwight Howard on the block last season, Gasol averaged 17.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.3 blocks on 51.3 percent shooting in April once he began to get healthier and more involved.”

          • Jim213

            Agree, we disagree. Better health does help but it just shows the difference between players like KB24 who aside of injuries still produce and play at close to top form when capable of playing.

            Yes Pau did start to play better like you’ve pointed out many times but it may also be b/c the coach may have minimized catering to DH like he previously mentioned. But my issue was DH which Gasol sat out more so than before which isn’t all due to his injury it was more so the lack of chemistry between both on the floor IMO…as they did have a better record the 2nd half of the season.

          • Daryl Peek

            Gotta disagree again. Pau was injury plagued from the jump last season… “He can do everything. It doesn’t matter where you put him. We’ll just try to find the right kind of combination of people around him. His whole thing is if he can be injury free, and pain free, which he wasn’t last year. He played through a lot of pain. He wasn’t moving well until later in the season” –MDA

            Kobe is a different kind of beast! You can’t expect other players to reach his level. If so, he would not be special. That being said, Kobe never dealt with plantar fasciitis. I know first hand as a SD Charger fan, how that injury debilitates a player. Antonio Gates saw a dip in his production for a year dealing with that. Kobe made mention that Pau would not be himself til the injury went from partial tear to full tear. Pau suffered the full tear in that Jersey, when he went out for 33 games thereafter.

          • Jim213

            Ain’t comparing both given the difference of mentality. Of course health is #1 and I don’t mean for a player to play through a debilitating injury. This just compares the difference of mindsets between some and others.

            Yes Pau should sit out if an injury stops him from playing his usual way. But it doesn’t necessarily mean IMO that Pau and DH struggled b/c of the injuries it was more to an extent that they occupied a similar style of game (area) that hurt both of them when they were on the floor which stats support.

          • ra

            Bigs don’t handle injury as well as smaller players. 7 footers have always had trouble with injury (except Kareem). Look at Bynum, Yao, Oden, etc. It’s very difficult to play through a sports injury if you’re supporting a big frame. Too much stress on the knees and below. Yao sustained serious fractures, and had to retire, despite being still able to ‘ball’. Oden didn’t even get started, fracturing just about everything below the knees.

            And plantar fasciitis is ridiculously debilitating. So add to that a larger structure, and you have ‘pain’, man.

            Kobe’s injections in Germany saved his knees for a few years. They didn’t help Drew’s knees much. And it appears it’s the type of thing that can’t help pf. That requires some form of surgery.

            So, Pau (who looks leaner and meaner now) can get a fresh start – second wind.

            Look for miracles.

        • richard

          the reason, his assist numbers will go up is that, he and Nash are going to run pnr, defenses are going to collapse to the center when Pau rolls, that would open up the wings for shooters… you got to have players making the shot to have assist, I think this roster has it. And when he pops, it will again open up the wings or the baseline for cutters, because Pau can knock those shots 12-15 feet away. 3 assist are too modest, it’s going to be near to 5. Gasol has always been an excellent passer and a willing passer.

          • Daryl Peek

            Not likely. Gasol’s assist numbers had to go up towards the end of last season. Nash was hurt, Blake was in and out of the line up, and Kobe was out at the end. When Nash is on and healthy, he makes his teammates better by getting them the ball. Pau got most of his assist on passes to Howard or Bynum. He wont have that option this season. Pau is a great passer but Nash will do most of the ball handling.

            I see Pau at 3 assist a game, which is far superior to your average center. If Pau is getting all those assist, where does Kobe fit in between Nash and Pau with his normal 5 a game?

            Expect to see more of a 2010 Pau. Crashing the boards more is gonna be what we need from him more. In 2010 Pau gave us 18.3/ 11.3/ 3.4/ 1.7

        • cj

          im going to say.

          18.3 ppg second option again should do wonders.

          12.2 rpg pau has never played with out two major rebounds. odom/bynum hill/bynum and hill/howard.

          4.1 assists the added shooters should help but nash will get like 7-10 and i think kobe gets about 6-8. the lakers need to be top ten in assists this year.

          1.7 blocks

          53% shooting 81% free throws and 45% three not a ton of shots.

          18.3-12.2-4.1-1.7-53%-81 ft%-45 3p%

          • Daryl Peek

            Pau will never shoot 45% on three’s. Dirk Nowitzki has never been able to do that, and we all know how much better a outside shooter he is than Pau.

          • cj

            pau has shot 50% before the % means less then shots taken. i dont see pau taking more then 20 threes next year

          • Daryl Peek

            I think you might be a little confused or I’m not understanding what your saying?

            They separate the shooting percentages in the stat lines. Pau has never shot over 33% from three point land in his career over a full season. Dirk’s best three point shooting season was 42%.

          • cj

            pau’s first full season with la he shot 2 threes and hit 1 thats 50% so yes he has hit 50% in his career

          • Daryl Peek

            Really? You counting 2 attempts?!? LMAO

          • cj

            thats my point i see him taking like 20 shots and hitting 9 thats 45% with next to no attempts.

  • richard

    TO all who are very negative of the way MDA played Gasol last year… please read this scirpt from Mitch interview… it’s over at lakers dot com.

    “He’ll be the focal point of our play in the paint,” Kupchak said. “He’ll be
    able to post up and he’ll be on the move whether it’s a pick and roll or
    pick and (pop). He’ll be able to hit (the outside shot). He won’t
    really have to share that much space. Much of what we did last year was
    an adjustment and deferring and trying to figure out how Dwight Howard
    would fit in, and try to get the best out of him. Pau Gasol made a lot
    of sacrifices last year. I think he’s looking forward to playing this
    year.” -

    It was FO and the coaching staff’s plan to see how that big whiner would fit in. Everybody made the sacrifice for d12. And when the losses started to accumulate as well as the injuries, Kobe had to step in to save the season.

    • Jim213

      Blah Blah Blah,

      Will see how this season takes shape but this is why the 4 position is important if Gasol is switched to the 5 position. A PF who has the ability to spread the floor and let Pau roam the paint freely like a wilderness will be important.

      This is why I believe S Williams will make the final cut given that he has the ability to spread the floor as well as his best shooting takes place from the corners which goes for 3 point shots too. Plus given that the coach wanted him within training camp on aids to this speculation.

      A PF player that allows Pau to do his thing will play a role in Pau’s success next season given that Pau and DH struggled to cohesively co-exist within both positions.

  • Daryl Peek

    Mike Trudell: Williams shot 40 percent from three for you at the four slot in New York in 2010-11. He’s been out of the league for a bit, but how much can he potentially change what you do if you want to go small?
    D’Antoni: First of all, he was the 17th overall pick in 2006, and is 6-9 with big hands and long arms. He is not a little guy at all, and he can guard in the low post in addition to shooting threes. He’s strong and big. Now, he hasn’t played for a while, but that’s a possibility. Now we also have Elias Harris, who’s 6-9 and very athletic, who can give us a different dimension. We want to see if Ryan Kelly can guard the low post, because we know he can shoot at 6-11. We have a lot of guys that we can make different combinations with. We have a lot of guys competing for spots, and for time. We’ll take the data, and coaches’ gut instincts, and try to figure out the best group.

    • Jim213

      Sounds like you believe that Kelly will make the cut ahead of S Williams?

      • Daryl Peek

        Were do you get that? Both Williams and Kelly will make the roster IMO

        • Jim213

          Sounded like you trolling on Williams at first but I have Williams, Harris, and Henry making the cut but if a 15 man roster takes place it’ll likely be a toss up between Landry and Kelly. IMO

          • Daryl Peek

            I have Henry and Landry duking it out for the 15th spot. I fully believe they will carry 15 this year. Harris, Kelly and Williams will be 12-14.

    • richard

      I think Harris and Williams will make it to the team ahead of Kelly… I like GAdzuric better than Sacre… we can send Sacre to the d-league and open up a roster spot for the veteran.

      • Daryl Peek

        Any player that’s sent to the D league that’s under contract, still occupies a roster spot. Gadzuric is just a camp body. Sacre is one of the Lakers that has a two year contract. Robert is a lock.

      • cj

        again sacre will be on the final roster

  • Daryl Peek

    Mike Trudell: Even with Dwight Howard on the block last season, Gasol averaged 17.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.3 blocks on 51.3 percent shooting in April once he began to get healthier and more involved. But it’s been a unique set of circumstances the last few seasons when the league’s most skilled big has had to shift his game more away from the rim due to the presence of Andrew Bynum and Howard, who can only play on the block.

    D’Antoni: Without a doubt, he’s had to adjust his game. He’s been playing out of position, and people forget that when the Lakers were winning championship, it was Pau at the five and Lamar Odom at the four, and that’s where you put fear in opponent’s hearts. That’s where we’ll try to get this year with Pau at the five, which is his natural position, even though he can play other positions. That’s where he’s best. He probably felt slighted last year, but everybody knew the road the Lakers were taking, and we tried to go down that road. He did what he could, sacrificed his game, and I felt badly about the situation. But obviously, I don’t even have a doubt that he’s a great player. He can do everything. It doesn’t matter where you put him. We’ll just try to find the right kind of combination of people around him. His whole thing is if he can be injury free, and pain free, which he wasn’t last year. He played through a lot of pain. He wasn’t moving well until later in the season, and he had two triple-doubles in the final few games at that point. He’s only 33 years old, and he hasn’t lost anything. I’m excited about what he can do and where we can use him.

    • Jim213

      • Daryl Peek

        LOL

  • Daryl Peek

    Mike Trudell: A big issue last season was the health of your point guards, which seemed to plague your ability to install a system for much of the season. Were the injuries the whole story?
    D’Antoni: When Steve Blake came back last year, we were pretty good. We were 28-12 to finish the season*. But we could never get both of our point guards healthy all year, as either one or both were out, including in the playoffs. That really hurt us.

    *Blake returned two games after the big run to finish the season commenced, so L.A. were 26-12 with him down the stretch.

    Farmar will have to show big in order to get Blake’s back up PG minutes.

  • 3339

    Still can’t believe he benched Pau last season. That was annoying. Pau is a great player. Far from soft. Glad we have him.

    • Daryl Peek

      He had to. Pau was hurt, remember the plantar fasciitis and Bad Knees he was dealing with most of the season? Couple that with trying to fit Howard into the low post focal point role. D’Antoni’s hands were tied.

      • 3339

        Idk about that. I recall Pau being ticked and even saying that he would think about a trade.

        • Daryl Peek

          “He probably felt slighted last year, but everybody knew the road the Lakers were taking, and we tried to go down that road. He did what he could, sacrificed his game, and I felt badly about the situation. But obviously, I don’t even have a doubt that he’s a great player.” –MDA

          This is what I respect most about D’Antoni. He didn’t pull any punches with Pau, he was truthful with him. Pau is the ultimate professional also. He understood the direction the TEAM was going. He’s been on the trading block for three years now. Hell he was traded for CP3. Everyone knows that if D12 had meshed with Kobe and decided to stay, Pau was gone. That was not D’Antoni’s call. Pau faced the same plight in 11-12 when Bynum was featured. Pau is human, as professional as he is eventually, even he would show frustration. Again, you can’t blame D’antoni for that. The featuring of Bynum began in the 10-11 playoffs under Phil. It was a natural progression as a younger Bynum began to look like he was gonna be healthy with his budding skill set.

          I say all of this because too many people try to simplify the blame game, using a easy scapegoat. It’s no different with how most are targeting Jimmy.

          • 3339

            how do you know? dantoni could just be saying stuff to the media.

          • Daryl Peek

            Come on mayne. I just laid out the last three years of this journey Pau has been on and you still need more proof?!? The franchise has been looking to move on from the triangle and find the next face of the team for a few years now. All that I detailed is a part of that search and the coaches involved are just middle men that have to follow the lead.

            As a Lakers fan I would be disappointed if that were not the case. Forward thinking is what has kept this franchise out in front of all others. Dr. Buss’s Showtime vision was the inception. Change is inevitable, as I keep trying to impress.

          • 3339

            I don’t understand what’s so hard about coaching the personnel that you have. I don’t care what their motive is.
            It’s not that hard. You have players and you coach in a way to properly use them.
            It really shouldn’t matter about what they want the future to look like. Coach the guys you have and coach the future guys when they get here.

          • Daryl Peek

            Again, Phil had to do it with Bynum, Brown too and D’Antoni with Howard. What you’re saying sounds great but it’s not that simple. Never has been. We have another example in the Showtime era, Magic and Norm Nixion. They could not coexist as high level players bidding for the same position and role on the court. Phil never foud that balance with Bynum and Pau. He just had the Bunym injury plight and LO as relief. Phil never dealt with the 1-9 volume of injuries MDA did and Phil had multiple years of previous experience with the roster. So of course his situation was smoother.

            Again, people try to over simplify assessment in looking for someone to blame.

    • STFU3339

      SHUT D F UP CRYBABY. U BEEOCH AND CRY BOUT EVERYTHING. U WORSER THAN GIRL ON PMS. U STILL B DAYDREAMIN BOUT PHIL 2 CRYBABY.

      • 3339

        It’s called school. You need it.

  • Lakers4Life

    “He’s the best center in the NBA.” Yeah, that’s why Dumbtoni benched Pau at times last season during the 4th quarter and kicked him off the starting lineup for a while. That’s why Dumbtoni usually favored Dwight in every way possible instead of Pau.
    Dumbtoni is such a hypocritical clown, it’s so funny LOL. He should be fired immediately and WE WANT PHIL~~~!!!

    • Daryl Peek

      Dude, read the post below. D’antoni explains the whole deal. We saw it play out exactly as he said. Gasol missed 33 games due to injury. I guess that didn’t matter? The FO, Kobe and even Phil were all lobbying/catering to Howard, trying to get him to stay. Was D’antoni supposed to go against everyone? Phil is not coming back, sorry!

    • LAL918

      Get the hell over it, Lakers4Life. Phil isn’t coming back because his health’s more important than coaching as of now. D’Antoni DID try to cater to Dwight and guess what, he failed to deliver! In the most laughably sense of irony of what D12 will face this year with the Rockets: they’re gonna shift him to Power Forward in order for them to revitalize the “Twin Towers” bullshit and I for one do NOT think it’s gonna work, not to mention they run the exact SAME system D’Antoni uses. He also said he’s willing to go with the style of resting his older players, just like Coach Popovich has done over the years.

  • Eddie Lazaro

    First and foremost, “Pau Gasol is a Class Act Future Hall of Famer!”, secondly, as painful as it is being on the trading block for the last 3yrs, he goes to work every night and continuously does what his coach wants him to do and where he wants him to be. He has been the other anchor of this franchise for the last 5+yrs and a major contributor of the last 2 Championships.

    Though he was branded & blamed as soft and weak, he does not take those words to be his disruption, as he handles them with class and professionally. A great compliment to the leadership of Kobe. A great big man who can dribble and has ability to shoot from mid range. Another assist oriented player on post who knows the game so well and can be relied upon as another leader.

    IMO, If he is healthy this season, we will see again the Pau Gasol we’ve seen when we took 2 of 3 finals earning the 16 & 17 Championships. I am on board on this “Step Up” challenge building the case for the 17th. Go Lakers!

    • Paytc

      Eddie,

      I agree that Pau Gasol when healthy and motivated, is top notch big man( primarily on the offensive end).I’m pulling for him to do well. But ………

      “STEPPING UP ” is not too much to ask of every player. There is nothing wrong with earning your paycheck and/or working your butt off to gain a new lucrative contract.

      If we just keep demanding “effort over excuses ” we’ll hold everyone to a higher level of standard. That will help the Lakers win a championship as well as help players land lucrative contracts. It also shows you appreciate the loyal fan support.

      That’s what I call WIN/WIN/WIN/WIN ! Fans,players,coaches,owners/F.O.

      That will keep the” Laker Brand “alive and well…. the common goal we all should agree with.

      Go Lakers !

  • cj

    im going to say.

    18.3 ppg second option again should do wonders.

    12.2 rpg pau has never played with out two major rebounders. odom/bynum hill/bynum and hill/howard.

    4.1 assists the added shooters should help but nash will get like 7-10 and i think kobe gets about 6-8. the lakers need to be top ten in assists this year.

    1.7 blocks

    53% shooting 81% free throws and 45% three not a ton of shots.

    18.3-12.2-4.1-1.7-53%-81 ft%-45 3p%

    • Doug Morgan

      …what added shooters?

      • cj

        idk farmar, young, wess, meeks, blake, nash, kobe……… do any of these names ring a bell

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