Breaking Down the Best Way for L.A. Lakers to Utilize Pau Gasol's Post Game
The Lakers enter the 2012-13 campaign with loads of elite-level talent and countless ideas on how to maximize it.
Be it Kobe Bryant's ability to move off the ball to create scoring chances, or the devastating pick-and-roll combination of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the Lakers have diverse options on any possession to break down a defense.
One the Lakers' best options on offense, however, will be Pau Gasol in the post. The big Spaniard has long been one of the games' best big men in the pivot and the Lakers will be a better team if they try to maximize his touches on the block.
How the Lakers can get Pau the ball in the post is a multi-pronged question that has several viable answers. After all, Pau doesn't play the game in a vacuum and will need to work within the Lakers' schemes to get his touches as close to the hoop as possible.
One of the most effective ways to accomplish this goal is to get Pau on the move so he can use his quickness to flash into the post, rather than banging with his defender to establish position:
As you can see in the clip, utilizing screens is one way in which the Lakers can ensure that Pau doesn't have to tangle with his man to make a catch. Block-to-block screens, angled picks that allow Pau to dive from the elbow to the opposite block, or back picks that free him to roam the baseline and then slide into the post are all very effective.
Notice as well that it's not even necessarily about getting Pau the ball in the deep post (though that does help), but rather about freeing him to make a catch where he can then survey the floor, size up his man, and then diagram the best plan of attack on any given play.
Beyond using screens, the Lakers can also utilize Pau's post ups via weak-side duck-ins where he makes a catch after the ball is swung from one side of the floor to another. This is an especially effective technique when Pau is paired with another dominant post player like he will be when playing next to Dwight Howard.
As we see in this clip, Pau helps initiate the action on one side and then clears to the weak-side post to carve out position. After Kobe and Bynum occupy the strong-side D, the ball gets swung and Pau is right there waiting in prime position to get an easy basket.
Of course, maximizing Pau's post game is not just about him scoring the ball. Gasol is one of the game's great passers for any position, but especially for a big man. He has an uncanny combination of court vision and feel for how the defense will play and action, making easy for him to make the proper reads to hit an open teammate.
Here we see how Pau, after making his post catch, instantly recognizes that Derek Fisher's man is in a trail position when Fisher cuts to the baseline side. Pau then patiently holds the ball and drops off a pass to Fisher for the easy score.
Pau can also expertly pick out cutters and spot up shooters with equal ability when working from the low post.
As we see above, Gasol's ability to see how the defense is reacting—either through double teams or how they play screen actions—makes him an ideal facilitator from the low block.
Teams must respect Pau's ability to be a scorer and passer from the post. The Lakers must recognize this and capitalize on his varied skills from the block in order to boost their offensive production.
Because while it is easy to fall back on the idea that Kobe should be featured or that newcomers Nash and Howard should get the bulk of the action in the Lakers' sets, Gasol should be a main cog in how the offense operates with him ideally doing the bulk of his work from the block.
Get Pau on the move, set screens for him, have him duck-in and then let him go to work. He's too good down there not to.
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