Purple and Gold Pressure Cooker: Which Laker Faces Highest Expectations?
Pau Gasol: Had the Lakers not acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard this off-season, Pau Gasol would enter the 2012-13 season facing substantially more pressure. Gasol is coming off a subpar season, in which he was involved in numerous trade rumors and played outside of his comfort zone in Mike Brown’s new offense.
Even with the new additions, Gasol should feel pressure to regain his old form. His production could be the difference in the Lakers being really good and being a championship team. Thankfully for Pau, he will be facing less pressure next season than he has in past seasons. Instead of being the team’s second banana, Pau can now fly under the radar as arguably the team’s fourth option on offense.
Without so much pressure to perform, and knowing he escaped the trade rumors once and for all, fans should see a loose, rejuvenated Pau Gasol in 2012-13.
Dwight Howard: Dwight Howard is a top five player in the league, so there shouldn’t be much pressure on Superman to produce his All-Pro quality stats on a nightly basis.
Howard may start to feel pressure about his statistics and winning championship rings if he plays in Los Angeles for numerous seasons, when he will inevitably be compared to the other great centers who have donned purple and gold. But overall production shouldn’t be too much of a concern next season.
Howard will definitely feel pressure in his first season with the team, however. Howard has not played one game with the Lakers and his surgically repaired back is already a concern. Howard will likely miss the start of the season. What if his back doesn’t hold-up, and he ends up not coming back until the middle of January? Howard may start to feel a little pressure the longer it takes for him to make his debut with the team.
Also, it’s still uncertain if Howard will sign an extension with the Lakers (he is currently set to become a free agent at the end of next season). If Howard aims to avoid tons of pressure for himself and avoid another possible “Dwightmare,” he needs to make a decision on an extension sooner rather than later, but that decision won’t come until after this upcoming season.
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