What should the Lakers do with Pau Gasol?
Some NBA players overachieve and benefit from being apart of the right system, while other players completely underachieve due to the fact that they're misused by their organizations.
In the 2012-13 NBA season, certain figures are being blatantly misused, and it's time for their coaches to do some reevaluating. These misused players need a stable role to develop, and it needs to develop soon.
This development, from a player lacking definition to one finding their niche, has certainly happened in the past and is even taking place right now.
For instance, J.R Smith has established a steady role this season with the New York Knicks, but he's previously gone through periods in which he looks lost.
Jamal Crawford is another example of a player who has found his niche this season with the surging Los Angeles Clippers, but his offensive production hasn't been best utilized in the past (such as last season with the Portland Trail Blazers).
Such players are capable of hitting their stride and generating production if they're used in the right way. The players listed here fall into this category, but as of now they're either playing out of position, functioning in the wrong role or perhaps not getting enough playing time in general.
If the coaches of these players don't soon figure out how to use these talents, then maybe a change of scenery is a must for these potentially potent threats.
McGee is only netting 18.7 minutes per game.
JaVale McGee is an erratic player who is due for numerous head-scratching plays every year, but his talent and raw athleticism are undeniable.
He's an abnormally athletic seven-footer who can run the floor and block shots with the best of them. Plus, his offensive game has been steadily improving the past few seasons. Because of this, he should be seeing more than the 18.7 minutes per game he's currently notching.
The Nuggets re-signed McGee to a long-term, lucrative deal in the offseason (four-years, $44 million). That's the type of money to throw at a center who's going to be a cornerstone for the future, but the Nuggets clearly aren't showcasing him as such.
He hasn't started a game this season, and he's averaging less minutes than what he did in the previous two years.
His numbers, interestingly, warrant him to be on the floor more. Honestly, they scream for this.
Consider his per-36 statistics, courtesy of RealGM Sports: 19.4 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game and 3.6 blocks per game.
Those are pretty staggering digits and they proclaim why McGee should see more time on the hardwood and less on the cushioned seats.
If he's used in the right manner, he has All-Star caliber potential. Yes, his inept decision-making is going to result in some mind-boggling maneuvers, but on a regular basis, he produces and provides the Nuggets with quite a gifted threat.
It's time for coach George Karl to unleash McGee and enable him to unveil his sky-high potential. If McGee finds his niche in Denver, he could help take them from a merely decent Western Conference team to a squad that could make some major noise come playoff time.
Gordon is averaging a career-low in minutes per game.
Even when used rightly, Ben Gordon is by no means a top-notch shooting guard. But he does have value and is capable of lighting up the scoreboard on any given night. The Charlotte Bobcats are currently minimizing this ability of his, and it's time for Gordon to become a more featured weapon in their offense.
Since Gordon left the Chicago Bulls after the 2008-09 season, he has struggled to find a groove. His role was never solidified with the Detroit Pistons and this continues to be the case with the Bobcats.
In Gordon's last year with Chicago, he averaged 20.7 points per game in 36.6 minutes per outing. In three seasons with Detroit, he never averaged more than 30 minutes an outing. He's now only tallying 22.2 minutes per game with Charlotte.
His offensive skill set is still there, however. According to RealGM Sports, he's currently ranked 10th in the league in scoring per-36 minutes at 21.5 PPG.
With this in view, it's evident that his role should increase with the Bobcats. It would be understandable if he was averaging decreased minutes while playing for a contender, but he's the most potent scorer on Charlotte's inept roster. Therefore, he shouldn't have to fight for more minutes.
Gordon's defense has always been a concern, but his scoring abilities should not be overlooked, especially since he's on a lackluster team in need of some firepower. He may not be worthy of 35-plus minutes, but his role should definitely be heightened.
Gasol could likely use a change of scenery.
Pau Gasol's appearance on this list surely doesn't come as a surprise. His disgruntled comments about his recent fourth quarter benching epitomize the heart of a player who feels he's being misused.
Gasol has clearly struggled to find chemistry with Dwight Howard, and it's led to the most frustrating year of his career. He's most recently been relegated to a role coming off the bench, making him quite a pricey big man (making $19 million this season) to have sitting in warmups at tipoff.
Consider this: Prior to this season, Gasol has never once averaged less than 17 PPG. This year, that number has dipped all the way to 12.8 PPG.
Also consider this: From 2004-2012, Gasol has always notched a field-goal percentage above 50 percent. This year, that percentage has dipped all the way to 44.8 percent, easily a career low.
Are these decreases indications that Gasol is aging? Perhaps this is true in a minor fashion. The core issue here, though, is that he's being neglected. His savvy scoring and playmaking abilities are simply not being seen enough.
Gasol is just one year removed from averaging 17.4 PPG, 10.4 RPG and 1.4 BPG. It's not like his prowess as a player just suddenly vanished. The Lakers, namely coach Mike D'Antoni, need to discern how to best mesh Gasol into a unit that features not only Howard and Kobe Bryant, but also Steve Nash. As of now, Gasol appears to be the odd man out in terms of who gets the ball frequently.
It's certainly been a upsetting three months for not only Gasol, but also the 20-26 Lakers. They have a plethora of issues to iron out, but a main one is what to do with Gasol. If he doesn't soon find a legitimate role with the Lake Show, then don't be surprised if he finishes the season in colors other than purple and gold.
Will Beasley ever reach his potential?
Michael Beasley has just recently shown some signs of life, averaging 18.2 PPG in his last five games, including a 27-point outburst on Wednesday evening in a win over the Lakers.
But the majority of the season has been rocky for Beasley. He can only hope that his recent eye-opening play is a sign of things to come.
Beasley has had plenty of good patches like this in his young career, but they're often followed by baffling struggles where consistency is a clear issue. That's why he's already with his third team in just his fifth season in the league.
What Beasley needs is a coach who's willing to unleash him. It seems that now Phoenix head coach Lindsey Hunter (the Suns parted ways with previous head coach Alvin Gentry a couple weeks ago) is willing to give Beasley more flexibility.
If the 24-year-old Beasley is featured in the right manner, he can become an extremely versatile scorer. He can attack the rim, hit the mid-range jumper and is even capable of extending to three-point range. These skills are why he was the second overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft.
There aren't many players with this much versatility in their arsenal. Because of this, it's a shame to see a player like Beasley averaging career lows in points per game (10.2), field-goal percentage (40.2 percent) and rebounds (3.8). Much of this surely falls squarely on Beasley, but some prudent coaching could mightily influence Beasley and enable his potential to be reached.
One option for Hunter to ponder is if Beasley should see more time as a power forward, where he can craft a turn-and-face post game that enables more high-percentage looks. Perhaps small forward is simply not the right fit for Beasley, because it too often results in difficult jumpers far from the basket. Plus, his size (6'10'', 235 pounds) make the low post a compelling alternative.
Overall, this is quite a challenge for a young coach like Hunter, but if he finds the right way to use Beasley, he could quickly have the Suns pointed in the right direction. This process appears to have begun after Beasley's monstrous performance against the Lake Show. Can Hunter and Beasley continue to build off this momentum?
Evans hasn't progressed since his rookie season.
Tyreke Evans is a superstar-caliber player. This has been the verdict since he won the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year award after averaging 20.1 PPG, 5.8 assists per game and 5.3 rebounds per game as a 19-year-old.
After his scarily impressive rookie season, fans and analysts figured he was on the fast track towards superstardom. He almost seemed like a mini-LeBron James. His size (6'6''), speed and ball-handling skills made him a rare specimen with a ridiculously bright future.
Strangely, his career has regressed since then. His statistics have grown progressively worse in each season. Now in his fourth year and only averaging 14.9 PPG, 3.1 APG and 5.0 RPG, plenty of questions have emerged.
Is it his work ethic? Has the league figured out a glaring weakness in his game? Is Sacramento just a bad fit? Is he a point guard or a shooting guard? Is his lingering left knee injury a focal concern?
There are surely numerous factors engaged in this, but one thing is clear: He's being misused.
Numerous things must happen for Evans to display his formidable all-around game.
First of all, more minutes are a must. He's currently notching 30.6 MPG, but a player with his ability is suited for the 35-40 MPG range.
Secondly, he needs the ball more. He's only averaging 11.5 shot attempts per game and just three assists per outing. Whether he's playing point guard or an off-guard, the issue is that he needs offensive freedom where he can showcase his explosiveness and play-making skills. To do this, he needs the ball.
Those two things must happen. He almost might need a change of scenery, and this could happen soon since he's a free agent at the end of the season (or if he's dealt prior to the trade deadline).
At any rate, Evans must embrace a stronger work ethic while also asserting himself more offensively.
But he also needs a coaching staff who is willing to allow him to be the playmaker that he is. That's not happening at the moment.
Humphries' role has wildly decreased this season.
Last year, Kris Humphries averaged career-highs in PPG (13.8), RPG (11.0) and BPG (1.2) and in turn received a two-year, $24 million deal to stay with the Brooklyn Nets.
His numbers this season? 6.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 0.6 BPG and he also lost his starting spot.
Newcomers Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche have caused Humphries to get lost in the shuffle. Evans brings rebounding intensity and Blatche provides offensive potency. Amid their contributions, Humphries has slowly been pushed to the side.
One might argue that Humphries is being used in the right manner since the Nets have improved this season. But the main reason they've improved is largely due to the presence of first-year Net Joe Johnson and the refined play of now All-Star Brook Lopez.
At any rate, the Nets are now paying a backup big man $24 million over the next two seasons. In Wednesday night's loss to the Miami Heat, Humphries only played two minutes. He thus made a pretty penny to run up and down the floor a few times.
Even if Humphries was overpaid in his contract, he still raised eyebrows and earned that deal for a reason. He was tied for fourth in the league in rebounding last season. Plus, his 13.8 PPG in 2011-12 prove that he's no slouch on the offensive end.
He clearly brings some positive elements to the table. While his minutes should be curtailed due to the additions of Evans and Blatche, his role shouldn't be altogether removed.