Why L.A. Lakers' Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol Can't Play Together
When the Los Angeles Lakers brought Dwight Howard into the fold, most fans and analysts did not expect Howard and Pau Gasol to have a hard time forming a cohesive tandem. Despite their expectations, it is clear that Gasol's game has seen a drastic decline since Howard's acquisition.
An initial look at the numbers show that although Howard's numbers haven't suffered, Gasol has been a shell of his former self.
Averaging 12.2 points on 42.0 percent shooting from the field, Gasol's struggles go beyond his injuries and the system.
On paper, it should have been a match made in heaven. Howard was supposed to be a more athletic and explosive version of Bynum. Furthermore, he was supposed to be a much greater defensive presence. However, upon further inspection, it is clear that Howard and Bynum are two very different players.
Bynum has an alternate skill set from Howard. Whereas Howard is at his best when scoring via easy baskets in transition, via the pick-and-roll and by forcing his way into the paint using his size, Bynum is a more traditional low-post scorer.
Bynum's traditional scoring style allowed for Gasol to be utilized extensively in the pick-and-roll as well as in the high post.
In fact, their complementary styles allowed for Gasol and Bynum to run the pick-and-roll by themselves.
Given the fact that Mike D'Antoni wants Steve Nash and Howard to be the primary pick-and-roll players, Pau's inclusion in the play has been mitigated.
With Gasol only able to work out of the high-post and create space with his range, which is shorter than D'Antoni expects from his power forward, the Lakers aren't able to utilize his ability to establish deep position off of the fast break or capitalize on his pick-and-roll proficiency or low-post scoring.
Whereas Gasol and Bynum were able to split time in the low post during Bynum's tenure with the Lakers, the current emphasis the Lakers have on running the pick-and-roll for Howard has made it hard for Pau to get his touches in the paint.
Thus, despite the fact that most of Gasol's struggles have been attributed to his injuries and D'Antoni's system, the onus of the blame should go on Howard. Gasol and Howard are not a good fit together and Gasol's struggles prove it.
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