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Whether you think he's a grizzled veteran capable of leading a team to championship glory or merely a serviceable big man, it's no stretch of the imagination to say that Pau Gasol has been drastically overlooked this season.
Pau's 2012 season has been pretty much hitting his career averages. Yes, his shooting percentages have dipped marginally, he is still connecting on a shade under 50 percent of his shot attempts.
His scoring average is two points (one made basket) less than it was last season, and that is no fault of Gasol's. Kobe Bryant is hoisting up (I'm so close to calling it shot-jacking) a frankly ridiculous 24 shots per contest. Twenty-four.
Gasol's Los Angeles Lakers have been fluctuating this season between looking like playoff contenders to looking like they will miss the postseason altogether. Whether their inconsistency is a mark of a lack of familiarity with new head coach Mike Brown's strategy or a sign of a terminal decline in performance from an aging core is unknown.
Gasol's importance to the Lakers is not talked about enough. He's been part of a lot of trade discussion that cannot be impacting positively on him or the team, and his worth led Kobe Bryant to speak out and back the Spanish big man...a hefty endorsement for a player under criticism.
A large part of Gasol's exclusion, however, is his misfortune to be playing at a position in the Western conference that boasts Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin. To beat out two of those three to receive an All-Star roster berth takes a big performance. This year, Griffin and Love snatched the honors.