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Pau Gasol went from injury-free and “ready to get back to form,” to finally healthy and “making his impact loud and clear,” to continued struggles and the revelation that the Lakers big man has a strained foot, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
The Spaniard entered the 2013-14 campaign with high expectations following a down year beside Dwight Howard, but Gasol, the former All-Star, hasn’t bounced back.
In fact, Gasol is shooting a paltry 39.5 percent from the field. That percentage would be unacceptable for any NBA guard, let alone for a 7-footer who prides himself on efficient scoring near the basket.
Gasol has rebounded the ball well this year, leading the team with 10.7 boards per contest, but his offensive output has been worse statistically than it was a year ago when D12 received the majority of touches down low.
It became increasingly clear that Gasol wasn’t 100 percent, and now we know that he’s dealing with a foot sprain.
Being critical of Gasol is difficult considering that he’s been playing through discomfort. However, the two-time champion is a much better player than what he’s shown so far.
In addition to the lanky power forward/center, Steve Nash has been a shell of himself in 2013-14.
The former two-time MVP is averaging 6.7 points on a measly 26.1 percent shooting clip.
His player efficiency rating sits at 6.8. That ranks him 288th in the NBA behind guys like Brandon Davies, Jeff Ayres and Ish Smith.
Nash has been sidelined after being diagnosed with nerve root irritation, which has caused problems in his hamstring and back. The injury has reportedly forced him to consider medical retirement, according to sports columnist Peter Vecsey via Twitter.
Aside from Bryant, Nash and Gasol make up the veteran backbone of this Lakers squad. Both have struggled significantly this season with injuries as the root cause.
The playoffs appear to be a pipe dream for the Lakers in 2014 if those two guys can't get healthy moving forward.