Gasol's season hit another bump in the road on Sunday night when JaVale McGee's forearm busted his nose and concussed him. He is out indefinitely with this latest injury, per ESPN.
When Gasol returns, head coach Mike D'Antoni should use him to energize what is a completely dead second unit. The Lakers bench is 28th in the league in scoring and 22nd in rebounding, per Hoops Stats. Gasol would certainly provide a boost in both areas.
The starters don't need his scoring, and a healthy Jordan Hill can take up his slack defensively as a starter. Hill's game also fits better with Dwight Howard in the frontcourt. Hill is an energy player that the Lakers don't have to run plays for, thus clearing the paint for Howard to operate.
Gasol seems to be experiencing some problems finding his place in the Lakers' attack with Howard on the floor. He's settling for a ton of jump shots, and his effectiveness offensively is almost entirely attached to the accuracy of those shots.
He's shooting a career-low 41.6 percent from the field and averaging just 12.2 points per game, also a career low.
According to 82games.com, Lakers five-man units that include Gasol on the floor without Howard are playing quite well. The site awards each unit a victory when they outscore the opponent during their time on the floor.
Howard-less Gasol units are 20-12 so far this season.
Kobe Bryant has been all-world, but when he rests, it would be nice to have Gasol's scoring to help the second unit. The five-man unit of Chris Duhon, Jodie Meeks, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison and Gasol are 3-1 in the aforementioned production structure, per 82games.com.
This is the only Kobe-less unit the Lakers have used with Gasol on the floor.
The defense is allowing 100.8 points per game, which is still less than their scoring average of 102.9, but the defense needs to improve if they are going to turn the corner as a team.
More than the numbers on defense or offense, the overall energy and effort needs to pick up for this team.
Playing Gasol as a sixth man would give the Lakers' punch-less bench an identity, and it would keep a solid interior defensive presence on the floor for the entire game.
It would also allow Gasol to be the No. 1 option for a time while he's on the floor. The bench players like Meeks and Jamison could get the outside shots they need to succeed from Gasol's post-up and passing abilities.
He's only come off the bench six times in his NBA career, but D'Antoni would be wise to use this time to sell him on the idea.
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