Pau Gasol's Knee Injury Shows Value of Antawn Jamison to L.A. Lakers

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Antawn Jamison #4 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates his basket during the game against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on November 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Spurs would win 84-82.  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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Both Los Angeles Lakers' big men are battling injuries.

While Dwight Howard's back surgery seems to be more well-known than Pau Gasol's recent knee tendinitis, both players haven't been playing up to what they're used to, and it shows.

Gasol is averaging just 13.4 points per game and shooting an atrocious 43.4 percent from the field, both of which are career lows for the veteran big man.

On top of that, he's been even less effective defensively, while struggling just a bit on the rebounding front, as well.  Although, a bit of that could be due to the fact that he's now competing with Dwight Howard for rebounds.

A lot of Los Angeles' struggles have been looked at through flame-colored glasses, making it seem as if this team is burning from the ground up.  This is mostly due to the fact that the first few weeks of the season have been wrought with controversy and an ownership struggle between the front office and the coaching staff.

Of course, through it all, with Howard's back injury, Gasol's knee injury and Steve Nash's broken leg, the Lakers are still 7-7 and in a good position to make the playoffs next spring and make a championship run into June.

Two big reasons for Los Angeles' ability to stay afloat has been Kobe Bryant's brilliance and Metta World Peace's ability to somehow transform into an offensive power in the blink of an eye, seemingly making every shot the Lakers need him to.


However, as of late, Antawn Jamison has awakened and finally showed the people of Los Angeles what makes him valuable.  He's a horrible defender, sure, but his ability to score has really been on display in the past two days.

Jamison is only averaging about six points per game.

But now that everything is calming down and he's starting to get the opportunity to shoot the ball, things are going better.

After a rough time in Mike Brown's offense, Jamison has averaged just over nine points per game in Mike D'Antoni's system, including a 16-point effort against the Memphis Grizzlies and a 19-point, 15-rebound game against the Dallas Mavericks.

It's easy to look at Jamison's last game and point out how much of an aberration it was.

Jamison hasn't had a game in which he totaled 15 points and 15 rebounds since 2010, and there's very little evidence that shows he's changed his style of play to make that happen in the near future.

Jamison isn't any more physical when he's trying to get rebounds and hasn't changed his shot in any way, but he looks like he's going to be able to do both of these things much better in the coming months than he was able to with Cleveland in the past two seasons.

In D'Antoni's system, big men who can shoot the ball have always been cherished. It's part of what made Amar'e Stoudemire such a good shooter as his career went along.

Jamison is the personification of space creation in an offense.

As the team's fifth-best scoring option at times, Jamison is able to go up against some of the other team's worse defenders.

This gives him enough space to either get off a shot or even put the ball on the deck and find himself an open shot. 

One of the things we forget about Jamison because he's got the reputation of being such a soft defender is that he is an impressive rebounder.

He's not a physical rebounder, but more of a mental rebounder.

Jamison is very good at judging a shot, figuring out how it will carom off the rim and then getting to a spot that will give him the best chance of grabbing it.

In a D'Antoni system that's going to continue to be more fast-paced and include more shots on a game-to-game basis, there are going to be more chances for Jamison to get open shots and grab rebounds.