2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.2 blocks
2013-14 Projected Per-Game Stats: 16.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.8 blocks
Pau Gasol has become an enigma.
The four-time NBA All-Star averaged a career-low 13.7 points per game last season to accompany a career-low shooting percentage of 46.6 percent.
He wasn’t comfortable in Mike D’Antoni’s system, nor playing beside Dwight Howard, and it showed. At times, Gasol looked genuinely overwhelmed on the court, which is not what we normally see from the two-time NBA champion.
I’m not projecting a "resurgent" year for Gasol, but there’s no way he can be as ineffective as he was last season. He’ll grab more rebounds now that D12 is gone, and he’ll score more points if he can build chemistry with Steve Nash early in the season.
Gasol likely won’t average more than four assists per game again now that he can’t throw alley-oop lobs to Howard. However, the Spaniard has an opportunity to make an impact on the defensive end.
Obviously Gasol isn’t the best defensive player out there, but I’m projecting his highest total of blocked shots since his days with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Why? Well, Gasol will have to protect the rim behind perimeter defenders like Nash, Steve Blake, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and a potentially hobbled Kobe Bryant. With the potential for matador defense on the perimeter, Gasol will have plenty of opportunities to thwart drives to the basket.