Pau Gasol's Frustration with Mike D'Antoni's System Is Justified

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Pau Gasol #16 and head coach Mike D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers sit on the bench before a game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on November 30, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Pau Gasol's frustration with L.A. Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni's perimeter-based offensive system is more than justified given how far he's fallen since the former NBA Coach of the Year took over 13 months ago.

After more than 60 mostly disappointing games in D'Antoni's oft-criticized offense, the veteran big man finally voiced his dissatisfaction, per The Los Angeles Times' Bill Plaschke:

The fact that I'm not getting the ball in the post affects directly my aggressiveness. When I'm not getting the ball where I want to, where I'm most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity.

Gasol has seen his numbers plummet since D'Antoni took over early last season. The 33-year-old attempted a career-low 11.8 field goals per game last season and wound up averaging a career-low 13.7 points per game on 46.6 percent shooting from the field, also a career-worst.

Now, a quarter of the way through the 2013-14 season, the Lakers are flirting with .500 and Gasol is playing even worse, shooting a dismal 41.7 percent from the floor and averaging 14.4 points per night.

Even D'Antoni has admitted that Gasol's frustration is warranted given his recent change in roles, per Plaschke:

Pau is a great guy, a great player, but the focus has gone away from him a little bit in the last few years. After a while it gets frustrating, you lose your confidence, you get a little nicked up here and there, you don't battle through it, it's tough.

And while Gasol must shoulder a portion of the blame as the player missing the open looks, it's become clear that D'Antoni's system is the No. 1 issue here. It's obvious that D'Antoni would rather let Gasol waste away than tweak his game plan in an effort to get the Spaniard going or play to the strengths of one of his biggest assets.

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the basketball against Landry Fields #2 of the Toronto Raptors on December 8, 2013 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and ag
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

While the box score may say Gasol is touching the ball and getting up his fair share of shots, D'Antoni's system is notorious for overlooking big men. Just ask Dwight Howard

It's not about field-goal attempts in Gasol's case, but where he's receiving the ball. He's not getting the ball in the paint and around the rim where he can score over the top, but instead, he's catching the ball around the perimeter and being asked to create from farther out. That's a tall task for a 7-foot, 250-pound power forward.

Therefore, something's got to give. Whether it's another coaching change or trading Gasol, who will become an unrestricted free agent at season's end, the Lakers must address their star's struggles soon and bring an end to the suffering for both men and the fans.

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