System Failure: Pau Gasol Must Come Off the Bench Reviewed by Momizat on . Okay. So this topic has been beaten to death already, but Pau needs, for his sake, to come off the bench. There's no need to get wordy about this. The harsh rea Okay. So this topic has been beaten to death already, but Pau needs, for his sake, to come off the bench. There's no need to get wordy about this. The harsh rea Rating:
You Are Here: Home » Editorials » System Failure: Pau Gasol Must Come Off the Bench

System Failure: Pau Gasol Must Come Off the Bench

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

Okay. So this topic has been beaten to death already, but Pau needs, for his sake, to come off the bench. There’s no need to get wordy about this.

The harsh reality is that Mike D’Antoni has been unable to evenly facilitate both Howard and Gasol’s superior talents, and unfortunately, their time on the court together has yielded less than desirable results. In a system that is predicated on speedy wings rather than rooted post players, Pau finds himself the odd man out.

It’s not that Earl Clark is certifiably better starter; it’s that Pau’s a better for the bench.

Allow me to explain.

Take a look at this shot chart for Pau Gasol this year:

Pau Gasol Shooting Total 1

















Quite frankly, there’s a lot of red in there. And while there are plenty of misses in the paint, the vast majority of them extend beyond the free throw line.

Pau is simply playing out of his comfort zone too often, and it’s hurting not only his defensive intensity, it’s affecting his confidence in his own clearly talented game. I’m not a believer that Pau is finished yet, but in the wrong places, he’s barely mediocre.

Take a gander at these stupendous statistics!:

At the Rim: 64.7% (55-85)

3 to 9 ft: 31.1% (23-74)

10 to 15 ft: 32.5% (13-40)

16 ft to 3 pt: 41.9% (39-93)

3 pt: 28.0% (7-25)

Seriously? Long two’s (considered by most to be the worst shot in basketball) are what the Lakers want Pau, one of the best low post players in the game, shooting?

It’s unacceptable that such a valued resource is wasted on low percentage (below league average) shots. At the rim, Pau is clearly still performing at peak level. The problem is that he only shoots there 26.8% of the time. In the 2009-10 season? He shot at the rim nearly 40% of the time, and all of those shots were converted at the exact same rate that he’s converting now: 64%. Pau isn’t necessarily declining: his role is.

At this point, there’s no use whining about starting when it really comes down to wins. The Lakers can’t win a game. Seriously. And for the past five years, Pau has been really good at helping the Lakers win, especially when he’s put in the right situations. Pau needs to come off the bench. It’s not that he’ll be the difference, but the problems are abundant, and I believe this can help solve some of them.

And what do the Lakers lose with Earl Clark starting? In this system, not much.

Earl Clark Shot Total

















Examine Earl Clark’s shot totals for this season. While his overall numbers are significantly less than that of Pau, it’s interesting to note that his percentages aren’t terribly different.

At the Rim: 61.3% (19-31)

3 to 9 ft: 25.0% (2-8)

10 to 15 ft: 33.3% (3-9)

16 ft to 3 pt: 41.4% (12-29)

3 pt: 62.5% (5-8)

Please take a moment to consider what this means. Because of the way he’s being played, Pau has been reduced to Earl Clark’s status. They are producing nearly identical numbers, and while Clark is being celebrated for his “success,” Pau is being crucified for the same output.

The difference isn’t in the player. It’s in the system. Obviously, this shouldn’t be news to anyone. Despite what Kupchak says, the typical NBA fan could have forecast the incompatibilities of the D’Antoni system and this Lakers squad. But the fact is that D’Antoni was hired. And the Lakers have to work with what they’ve got.

Earl Clark starting helps the Lakers in two ways. First, he’s demonstrated that he’s not incapable from beyond the 3-point line. While his shot totals are not close to being enough for a typical sample size, he’s still shooting better than Pau. That’s a plus for this system.

Secondly, Pau working with the bench can only help their relatively poor decision making. With Morris/Duhon holding the reins for the bench, Pau gives the Lakers a valuable asset in terms of basketball IQ. The guy’s a genius, and he can help an already struggling bench squad find some stability.

The numbers, for the most part, also reflect that the Lakers do well with Clark on the floor.

In the 71:12 minutes that Clark’s been on the floor with the starters, the Lakers outscore their opponent at a rate of over 18 points per 100 possessions. The Lakers’ FG%, 3P%, eFG%, FT%, DRB, TRB%, and AST all increase with Clark on the floor with the other starters over 100 possessions. The only decrease is in offensive rebounding. With Pau and the starters, the numbers are significantly worse. The most telling stat is that over 100 possessions, the Lakers are outscored by .6 points with Pau joining Bryant, Howard, Nash and World Peace.

Now, I don’t necessarily believe that statistics tell everything about the game of basketball. There are obviously chemistry issues, communication issues, and pride issues. But the Lakers need to look at what works. And when Clark is in with the starters, it seems they give themselves a little more breathing room.

Pau has given up more for this team than any other player on the Lakers. Sacrifice should be his middle name. But as far as I can tell, he may once again be the difference between winning and losing. If his pride will allow it, then the Lakers need him to sacrifice once again. Hopefully, the Lakers can reward his selflessness with victory.

All statistics from Basketball-Reference.com.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter

About The Author

Daniel is a staff writer for Lakers Nation that loves studying and analyzing the NBA. To read more of Daniel's hardwood analysis click here. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielMuli08.

Number of Entries : 21
  • http://twitter.com/CEO32 MagicToppin

    THis is a stupid article. Y not blame who is at fault and that is Mike Dan Phony. U need to be around nba players and coaches before you start writing articles about how a $100 million dollar contract guy needs to come off the bench…. Y let interns write articles like this.

    • Danny

      did you even read the article, he uses statistical evidence to support his argument, which makes a lot of sense.

    • Chrmngblly

      You are a really stupid fellow.

  • http://twitter.com/WaynesRCworld Fastwayne

    Who is really to blame, if Pau is more effective inside why does he continue to jack up shots from 3pt area? Move in and take it inside. Play your own game. Pau really needs to man up and stop being co dependent. It is partially Both antoni and Pau’s fault, antoni for not utilizing Pau, and Pau for not taking charge of his own game. Man up! Same old story with Pau.

  • Leo

    D’Antoni should come off the bench :-) and go out of the arena… for now and forever…

  • JohnC

    Pau is surely the worst treated and least understood player in the history of basketball: Pau´s numbers TODAY, even in this funny system, and despite all his injuries this year, are similar or even better than some ALL STARS such as Chandler or Garnett… ??!! But he’s critizied instead of supported. My theory: he was not born in Oregon or NY, but in Europe, he does not sell as many t-shirts, and he may rebound more and score more and block more and assist more, and be several times more effective… but he neither opens tuna cans with his teeth nor pretends he’s a criminal with the photographers. The system is not working for Pau, but is not working for Nash, Dwight, Jamison, MWP, even Kobe lately (who used to be beyond good and evil) for almost anybody up to the point that a good 6th, 7th or 8th player – Clark – is a starter. (This said with all my respect ’cause I love the game and admire absolutely every player who reaches these NBA standards). But we’re talking about one of the best players and most talented of this game, and too many people forget that.

    • Terrence

      Garnett is 4 years older and still putting up those numbers, while Pau doesn’t have anywhere near the defense that Chandler does. Garnett’s defense is still better than Pau’s. Moving Pau to the bench also keeps his minutes down which actually leaves him with energy to move up and down the court quicker.

      • JohnC

        This is exactly what I said: just imagine what would be said if either Chandler or Garnett had the skills Pau has; I wonder why the same numbers (despite being in much worse context) provoke a ‘Trade Pau’ on the one side and an All-Star nomination on the others. Or just remeber poor Chandler during this summer’s Olympics final game… just look at how their system and coach treat them in their teams, their roles, their respect.

  • ffc

    Paul does not care anymore he does not want to play period. Stater or from the bench it is not going to work. Trade him.

Contact Us | Privacy Policy | © 2014 Medium Large, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Medium Large, LLC - All data and information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Los Angeles Lakers, it's employees, or its’ affiliates. LakersNation.com is an independent fan site and not associated with or represent National Basketball Association or the Los Angeles Lakers. Furthermore, LakersNation.com makes no representations as to accuracy, suitability, or validity of any information on this website and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Scroll to top