The Pau Problem: Is Gasol Good, Bad For Lakers Moving Forward?

The Pau Problem: Is Gasol Good, Bad For Lakers Moving Forward?


Pau Gasol is one of the best power forwards in the game today. His career averages of 18.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game are beyond impressive. Gasol is also considered to have the best all-around skills for a 7-footer. There are not many other power forwards who can run a perfect 3-on-2 fast break, find small windows to make a perfect pass through traffic, or shoot with both hands around the basketball. However, numbers and skills do not always justify Gasol’s play.

Gasol recently has been less than stellar for the purple and gold. Although his numbers say otherwise, Laker fans know all too well that in important games Gasol tends to be less effective. He’s timid and shies away from contact when play gets rough. Physical play is Pau’s weakness, thus making him unimportant to the outcome of the game. For example, these past two years in the playoffs, when the physicality of the game intensifies, Gasol has averaged career lows in points and rebounds.

While Pau Gasol was averaging 18 points per game in his first 3.5 seasons with the Lakers, this season his scoring suffered slightly as a result of the emergence of Andrew Bynum. Pau was still able to average 17.4 ppg, 10.4 rebounds, and his Laker best 3.7 assists.

It is safe to say that Pau’s numbers would fall when Andrew Bynum plays like an All-Star. Andrew’s dominance inside is only going to take away touches from Gasol. The better Bynum does, the less Gasol gets the ball. Last season, when Bynum missed 28 games, Gasol was the go to/reliable player in the post for the Lakers. This year, Bynum played a full season for the first time since the 2006-07 season. He only missed the first four games due to a suspension he received for a flagrant foul against JJ Barea in the playoffs the previous season, and sat one game out late in the season for some added rest heading into the playoffs.

Andrew is the first true center the Lakers have had since Shaquille O’Neal, and the second best center in the league. Some may even say Bynum is the best offensively skilled center in the game today. He averaged career bests in both points and rebounds, 18.7 ppg and 11.8 rpg, earning his first All-Star appearance as the Western Conference’s starting center. So it is understandable that Gasol’s numbers would dip. Also, there is only one ball on the court for five players, and to expect a player like Gasol to continue to have big numbers when a guy like Bynum begins to average career numbers and play up to his expectation is unfair.

When compared to other All-Star power forwards, Pau’s stats do not lie. He trailed the Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh (18) this season by only 0.6 points, but averaged three more rebounds. Pau averaged more points per game than Kevin Garnett (15.8), Tim Duncan (15.4), Carlos Boozer (15) and had roughly the same as Amar’e Stoudemire (17.5). All these players share the scoring load on their team, although this is just comparing numbers. The difference between Pau and these mentioned power forwards is the style of play. The others are better at playing strong and physical where as Pau is thrown off his game when pushed around. There is a saying that numbers don’t lie, and in most cases that is true. Players can talk, but talk does not support their play, their numbers do. Numbers tell fans, coaches, analysts, and other players how someone is playing. But in the case of Pau Gasol, the numbers can be a bit deceiving. In any given game Pau could have a double-double, but he would frustrate fans because when he was needed the most or when the game was in crunch time, he does not always deliver.

The same topic is constantly being brought up when Lakers power forward Pau Gasol is the topic – his toughness, mentally and physicality. When he first became a Laker, it was his toughness on the court that was in question after Boston roughed him up, but he answered it in the following two years. Now it’s both. For Gasol, 2010-11 was a season to forget, as the eventual NBA World Champions Dallas Mavericks swept the Lakers in the second round. This was not the Pau Gasol people remembered. He seemed to be mentally checked out, averaging just 12.5 ppg. What was worse, each game his scoring went down, from 15 in Game 1 to 10 in Game 4. Defenders were able to keep him away from the basket, forcing his shots to be much more difficult. He was unable to get rebounds, and in many ways it was almost like he was not there.

Next Page: Pau’s Playoff Problems

  • Duane Eric Woodberry Jr.

    I agree


    I think the Lakers are going to be the front runners in getting Roy.  I think the Lakers should first address the bench before taking chances on big time names like Deron Williams.This is my blueprint in what the Lakers should do this current off-season:Step 1- Trade Steve Blake and Josh McRoberts and cash considerations for Lamar Odom(July 1).Reason- Dallas is currently trying to ship L.O. out of Dallas. They aren’t pleased with his attitude,and his production. It is clear he wants to be a Laker.
    Step 2-  Sign Michael Beasely as a free agent with combined traded players exceptions(Odom, Fisher, Kapono)Reason-  This will give us an all around scorer who can come off the bench and gives us about 13-15ppg.
    Step 3- Sign Brandon Roy to a veteran’s minumum contract using the rest of all combined trade exceptions.Reason- Before Roy retired, he was an elite 2 guard in the NBA. Remember, he was the third best shooting guard during his playing days, Roy is a all around threat. Roy can put the ball on the floor and attack the basket, he can shoot the ball from distance at a decent rate, and he can get to the line. Roy also can play both guard positions and small forward.
    Step 4- Resign Hill, Ebanks, Sessions, and MorrisReason- These players are young, talented and haven’t reached their primes yet.
    Step 5- Three team trade: Houston gets: Pau Gasol and Matt BarnesLakers gets: Deron WilliamsBrooklyn gets: Kyle Lowry and Luis ScolaReason-  This is a good trade for all teams, every team gets the stars that will will their team to victory.  The Lakers get the star to pair with Kobe, and New Jersey Nets get a solid duo for the future, and Houston gets the big they wanted and they get a defensive stopper in Barnes.
    Step 6- Sign Ryan Anderson or Brandon Bass to a MLE contract.Reason- This will gives us a lights out shooter in Anderson and a solid big man in Bass.
    Lineup View:pg Deron Williamssg Kobe Bryantsf Metta World Peacepf  Brandon Bass or Ryan Andersonc Andrew Bynum
    Benchpg Ramon Sessionssg Brandon Roysf Michael Beaslypf Lamar Odomc Jordan Hill
    Reason- This gives us a really versatile team, we can now play tall or play small lineups. We can defend and play multiple positions. When it is all said and done, this is a real championship team for the next several years.

    • Td00d

      We cant use TPE’s on free agents. Brooklyn can get a much better deal for DWill than that, and Brooklyn and Houston wouldnt do that trade either way. Ramon Sessions wants a big contract + starting role.

      So much for the 2K GM skills.

    • Southcidal

       I like Sessions, I think that he was just a little blown away by the size of the playoff stage and by the size of the stage of playing in Staples. But this was his first playoff appearance, lets not forget Kobe’s (the three airballs against Utah). Sessions will be better, believe me.

      I say stay as far away from Michael Beasley as possible. I don’t think he’s a championship piece. Maybe if you amnesty Kobe he is. But with Kobe and Bynum taking most of the shots LA doesn’t need another volume shooter. And Beasley offers nothing else. LA should be looking for shooters and dirty work players to put around Bynum and Kobe if a deal for D-Will can’t be made. But I don’t think D-Will puts the Lakers over the hump with a hole at PF. And no Jordan Hill should not be depended on to be a starter just yet.

      Trade Gasol for Josh Smith and Marvin Williams. Extend Smith for 5 years 55 mil. A discount from Gasol’s 19 mil. A slight paycut for Smith who made 13 last year but he’ll take it for a title. Williams has one year left at a hefty amount that’ll come off of the books in 2013. You’re basically getting a four that’ll give you everything that Pau didn’t: athleticm, defensive intensity, and youth, and you’re getting a long 3 that can stretch the floor for the amount of Pau’s cap hit.

      Amenesty Metta and use he and Barnes salary to sign Jet Terry and Jordan Hill. 

      Smith is your Durant stopper and he allows Bynum space, Jordan Hill is your Faried and Ibaka neutralizer, and Jason Terry is the guy that can keep the offense moving while Mamba is resting and stretch the floor for him in the closing minutes of games.

      I wish I had Kupchak’s phone number.