Since Pau Gasol joined the Lakers in the middle of the 2008 season, the team has been to three straight NBA Finals and has won back-to-back championships. But at times this season, the Lakers have not looked like a championship basketball team.
Obviously, to get back on track and win their third straight title, Pau Gasol's play is just as important as anyone else donning purple and gold. Here are 10 reasons why Pau Gasol is the key to the team's three-peat dreams.
I could talk all day about Gasol's physical abilities, but what makes Gasol extra special is he is good and smart. Phil Jackson has stated that Gasol picked up the difficult triangle offense as quickly as anyone he has coached.
Gasol's deep understanding of the offense is critical for the Lakers' philosophy of playing inside-outside basketball.
Pau Gasol is a point guard in a big man's body. Gasol is easily the best passing big man in the NBA. He often creates easy baskets for his teammates playing from both the high and low post.
At times, Gasol can be unselfish to a fault. Sometimes he should look for his own shot a little more than he already does. With that being said, can you imagine a better complementary player for Kobe Bryant?
Imagine having a player with Gasol's capabilities accompanied with a huge ego playing alongside Kobe. It could be Shaq vs. Kobe Part 2.
Gasol is the perfect Robin to Kobe's Batman.
Gasol is a top-five rebounder and ranks in the top 10 in blocked shots. For all of the talk about Gasol being soft, he quietly takes care of business on the defensive end.
Gasol is a back-to-back NBA champion. I think it is safe to say that come playoff time, Gasol will be ready to help defend the championship.
While Odom is a little more versatile and Bynum more physical, Gasol is still the best overall player of the team's three-headed frontcourt monster.
Odom and Bynum have received some criticism for their inconsistency in the past. Think if they didn't have Pau Gasol around.
Gasol often warrants a double-team from the opposition's defense. This leaves other Lakers with quality shots. The other Lakers reap the benefits of Gasol warranting a double-team so often.
Maybe it is just me, but Gasol seems to be shooting the 15-to-18-foot jumper more this season. In addition, he knocks it down at a fairly high percentage.
Gasol broadening his game will only make opposing defenses lose more sleep come this spring.
Earlier in the season, Gasol was getting fatigued late in games with Andrew Bynum sidelined with his knee injury. Now that Bynum is back and finding his timing, Gasol's conditioning will be in better shape come playoff time.
Gasol is simply the most skilled big man we have going in the league today. Having a player like Gasol in your frontcourt makes you a championship contender right off the bat.
Gasol put the Lakers back on the map when he came to the team in 2008. Remember, before Gasol came along, Kobe was demanding to be traded. Two championships later, those days seem like thousands of years ago.
Some people still use the fact he is not the most physical player as a crutch to criticize him. It pains me that people still doubt Gasol's worth.