The NBA playoffs are all about the superstars, and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant definitely fits that bill. But if the Lakers make a run at a championship, it could be because of big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
A team has to have that superstar to win a championship, and while it doesn't necessarily have to go out and sign a Big Three, it must surround that star player with quality complementary talent.
Those complementary pieces helped Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals and helped prove the theory that basketball is a team sport and no superstar can win a title alone.
Bynum and Gasol are stars in their own right and are a little too talented to be called complementary pieces, but in reality, they are the two perfect complements to Bryant's savvy game.
When the Lakers run their offense effectively and play the game inside-out, things can work out near perfectly for Bryant and the rest of the team—and that's because of Gasol and Bynum.
The advantage that their length brings the Lakers has been well documented, but when used properly, they free up space for Kobe.
The big man combo can finish around the rim and must draw the attention of opposing defenses down low. Just during the Lakers' two postseason games, Bynum and Gasol have combined to shoot .549 from the floor (Bynum: .630).
Not only that, but they are both great passers out of the post, averaging 9.5 APG combined during the series. They draw the defense in and kick the ball out to open shooters, and Kobe is the beneficiary of plenty of open looks at the basket.
Then there is the fact that Bynum and Gasol help keep possessions alive.
During the regular season, the duo combined to grab six offensive rebounds per game. That's six extra shots at the basket the Lakers get every night because of the big guys.
Everyone knows about Kobe's dynamic scoring, but his job is made just a little bit easier knowing he's got a pair of guys battling on the inside.
Nobody writes about the little things needed to win a title—like making that one key pass out of a double-team or extending that one key possession—but that's winning basketball, and Gasol and Bynum do it as well as any duo in the NBA.
As a result, they complement their superstar almost perfectly.