The 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers may be the most hyped on-paper team in NBA history. With a combined 35 All-Star Game appearances on the roster, it isn't too difficult to see why the franchise is once again atop the paper totem pole.
Fear not, Gasol fans, that will all change upon the commencement of the 2012-13 regular season. Pau Gasol will remind the world of why he is a legitimate superstar.
After failing to do anything but underwhelm during the previous two postseasons, many labeled Gasol as an over-the-hill star. The truth of the matter is that Gasol remains one of the most skilled players in the league with a resume that a majority of the elite players in the game have yet to match.
Don't believe it? Check out the billing.
Two NBA championships, three All-NBA selections, four All-Star Game appearances and the 2002 Rookie of the Year award certainly looks like a resume that the Hall of Fame would consider. For what it's worth, he's also a seven-time FIBA European Player of the Year award winner.
With a comeback season in 2012-13, the Spaniard may move closer to respect as a Hall of Fame lock. As for why, Gasol can thank none other than a healthy Dwight Howard.
Here is why.
Pick-and-Roll with Steve Nash
There is no way to temper the excitement about the Lakers' revamped roster. One of the primary reasons is the fact that the game's best pick-and-roll facilitator, Steve Nash, will be working with the game's best pick-and-roll finisher, Dwight Howard.
With all of this being known, let us not forget that there's another elite pick-and-roll finisher on the roster.
There just so happens to be a player that goes by the name of Pau Gasol in the rotation. Gasol has made a living with this very play, proving to be a phenomenal finisher around the basket and an elite mid-range shooter for his position.
With Nash running the point, expect Gasol to once again establish himself as an elite power forward. He will flirt with 20.0 points per game due to plays being designed around his skills to finish close to the basket.
As one could only expect, it all goes back to Dwight Howard. With his reputation as an unstoppable force in the paint, Gasol will have a much easier path to the basket than that of a year ago.
Steve Nash Isn't the Only Elite Facilitator
Not only can Gasol finish off screen plays, he is more than capable of facilitating them as well. As we saw during Howard's preseason debut, Gasol is more than capable of floating a pretty pass or two up to an elite finisher.
Sounds like a dream pairing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Gasol has long been the quintessential European skill player. He's an excellent ball handler for his size and position, with the additional ability of being able to fit dimes into tight passing lanes.
When you stand at 7'0" tall, that becomes a luxury that point guards are unable to benefit from.
With the offense he plays in, Gasol will be asked to handle the ball quite often. In turn, he will take it both from the top of the key and in the post. This will enable Gasol to find open teammates on the perimeter, slashing scorers and even a streaking Dwight Howard.
With such limitless possibilities, 2013 is shaping up to be a career year for Pau Gasol.
Perfect Fit for the Princeton Offense
As previously alluded to, Gasol could not have found a better offensive style to play in.
As a member of the Princeton Offense, it imperative that bigs are capable of handling and passing the basketball. Considering Gasol possesses elite passing ability, high-quality mobility and an outstanding mind for the game, Pau Gasol's skill and decision-making will lead to pure brilliance in that sense.
With Dwight Howard as one of his slashing finishers, the quality of Gasol's work will improve accordingly.
Despite being surrounded by inconsistency throughout the duration of his career, Gasol has averaged 3.2 assists per game. Although Steve Nash will take on the lead facilitating role, Gasol should see his assist number sit between 4.0 and 5.0 dimes per contest.
As a result, the Lakers' offense will flow to perfection, and assistant coach Eddie Jordan's Princeton style of play will flourish. All of this can be chalked up to the abilities of two players: Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.