Can Pau Gasol Find His Rhythm in Mike D'Antoni's System?

Ethan Sherwood Strauss@SherwoodStraussNBA Lead WriterNovember 27, 2012

SACRAMENTO, CA - NOVEMBER 21:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers warms up before their game against the Sacramento Kings at Power Balance Pavilion on November 21, 2012 in Sacramento, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The short answer is, "Yes, but he needs to shoot better." 

Pau Gasol is a fine mid-range shooter, especially for a big man, but Mike D'Antoni's system requires three-point spacing. It's all fine and well that Pau Gasol averages 40 percent on his long twos (via HoopData), but he needs to take a step back.

In fairness to Pau, he's been trying. He attempted 27 bombs last year, a career high. There is hope for Pau as a floor-spacer, but the commitment must be there. It's not an ideal situation, as center is Gasol's natural position. But, considering L.A.'s two-big spacing issue, a compromise must be made.

First, take note of D'Antoni's offensive system. Three-point threats are an absolute must-have for Mike D's favorite play.

Take note of how the floor is spread. In this system (and it's becoming increasingly popular around the league), the center sets a pick for the point guard almost immediately after the team crosses half-court. For D'Antoni's "unguardable" pick-and-roll to be as such, Mike's power forward must be stationed beyond the three-point line.

If the 4-man is beyond the arc, then the guard and center can work their two-man game with correct spacing. If Pau, as power forward, spots up closer to the three-point line, the defense might be able to intervene and block the point guard's pocket pass entry. 

Now, there are offenses that don't require a spread pick-and-roll action, but the Lakers ostensibly rejected such structures. The Triangle and the Princeton are high-post options that look remarkably similar, just on opposite sides of the floor. Both have been summarily turned down by Team Buss.

This leaves D'Antoni to try his old bag of tricks. Pau Gasol should be fine and at home when Dwight sits and Gasol operates as the 5. But in between, he'll be forced to evolve. This might necessitate more than simply learning a three-point shot.

Gasol has a good handle for a big man, and fantastic floor vision, but he might need to become more at ease after his shot fake. This is easier said than done. NBA players aren't video-game characters; They can't simply conjure new skills.

But, at the ripe age of 32, Gasol is at something of a crossroads. He can play as he always has, and have his production compromised in Laker-land. He can ask for (or simply be the subject of) a trade, and ply his skills elsewhere as a true big man. Or, if he wants a championship here, Gasol can push himself into a new skill set.

There are no guarantees as to whether this is even feasible. For Pau, testing that out might be the only option worth taking.  

Related

    Steph Got His Groove Back 💦

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Steph Got His Groove Back 💦

    Will Gottlieb
    via Bleacher Report

    The 'Bone Collector' Seeking NBA Debut at Age 37

    NBA logo
    NBA

    The 'Bone Collector' Seeking NBA Debut at Age 37

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report

    Lakers Have Been in Touch with Randle, but His Future Is Unclear

    Los Angeles Lakers logo
    Los Angeles Lakers

    Lakers Have Been in Touch with Randle, but His Future Is Unclear

    Tania Ganguli
    via latimes.com

    Kuzma Jokes About Tampering Fine When Discussing Lebron Joining Lakers

    Los Angeles Lakers logo
    Los Angeles Lakers

    Kuzma Jokes About Tampering Fine When Discussing Lebron Joining Lakers

    Trevor Lane
    via Lakers Nation