Los Angeles Lakers: Can They Win a Title If They Keep Forgetting Pau Gasol?
When Pau Gasol was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008, many mixed emotions stirred in all the frustrated Laker fans across the nation.
At that point, the Lakers had lost Andrew Bynum to injury, Kwame Brown was being booed out of Staples Center and they had lost five of their last seven games. It didn’t seem like they were going to find a way to make anything happen before the trade deadline, especially when they all their options were limited.
Yet they managed to pull off this trade, if you can call it that.
Afterwards, the whole world was left to watch greatness form as the Lakers shifted the entire power balance of the league, again.
They went on to reach the NBA Finals three times in a row, winning their last two trips and they are hoping to make it there again which is an achievement in its own right.
The Lakers were the last team to reach the NBA Finals four times in a row from 1982 to 1985 and it only seems fitting that they were also the last team to win three championships in a row from 2000 to 2002.
But in order to get to there again and in order to win the NBA Championship again, they need to remember what got them there.
Yes, Kobe Bryant is amazing and he is going to play in all his greatness come playoff time but Gasol is just as vital to the Lakers as Kobe. And when I say just as vital, I mean that if you take Gasol off the Lakers, they won’t have a chance at a championship.
You can’t deny his value, he is no second fiddle.
With that being said, the Lakers need to focus on Gasol in order to continue their dominance in the NBA and win their third consecutive championship.
Why Pau Gasol, you ask?
Well, I’m glad you asked, because I have three big reasons why.
Kobe Needs to Preserve His Energy
The Lakers were very fortunate to win the championship last year with the condition Kobe was playing in and after watching the early flow of this season progress, it’s pretty obvious that Kobe isn’t looking to over assert himself.
After 15 seasons in the NBA, Kobe is playing each game with the future in mind.
It isn’t so much about how many points he can score as it is about how many minutes of rest he can achieve.
And with a great player like Gasol on your roster, it makes it that much easier for Kobe to relax, pick his moments and preserve his venom for four special teams from April through June.
Gasol is playing his 10th season of consistent basketball which is something that every coach wants to have from their players, yet it is a quality not a lot of players possess. That’s why when you pull up any given player’s stat sheet you’ll find great seasons, followed by poor seasons.
Do you want to know what you’ll find when you pull up Pau Gasol’s stat sheet?
Also, add the fact that Gasol is in a better physical shape than Kobe and then add the proven veteran players on the Laker roster and you’ll see how easy it is for Phil Jackson to let Kobe average 33 minutes per game.
That is really all it takes out of him for the Lakers to be successful.
Kobe is averaging his lowest minutes since his sophomore year in the NBA and it is also almost six minutes fewer than last season.
Gasol can endure the fatigue and with the return of Andrew Bynum, he can endure it a little easier.
Just a little…
His Versatility Makes Games Easier
The bad thing about one-dimensional players is that the opponent will always be able to predict their moves.
So for example, if you have a player on your roster that really knows how to post up and has the strength to do it then as an opposing coach, I’ll have my players double him from the weak side. That player will either get the ball stolen, or be forced to pick up the ball and try to make a pass.
It never seems to surprise me how many professional basketball players choose to play in a one-dimensional style and this is especially true for the front court positions.
Gasol on the other hand, has so many moves that he always has the defense second guessing themselves which just makes things easier.
He’ll make the right pass on the double team and he has the quickness and tenacity to score on defenders.
Also, on any given night, don’t be surprised to see Gasol run the fast break off a turnover because oh yes, he can do that too.
He is often being criticized as being a weak center and is made fun of for his finesse style of play but critics often miss out on one tiny detail.
Whatever he does, it simply works and you can see this as he creates plays on the court that other players cannot stop him from creating. This makes his size that much more valuable because there are a lot of big players in the league who clog up the middle and can not create plays for others.
Gasol is a really good reason to how the Lakers can get away without have a great point guard to run the floor.
When the ball goes to the post, he can read the floor and make the appropriate play without needing a guard to facilitate the offense.
When you have a versatile player like him, it helps every player on the floor which makes games flow easier.
Pau Gasol Has That Something About Him
Some players have these characteristics that can't be put into a stat sheet or called out during a game.
Only when people look at their legacy and what they accomplished, can they just stand in awe and appreciate that something amazing happened.
Is Pau Gasol just part of a another rendition of the Laker Legacy or is it more about a lost Spaniard in Memphis who found a place to call home?
When he was traded to the Lakers in 2008, he became the solution to all the problems the Lakers had and they instantly started winning. It's not very often that a player can impact a team that effectively without going through some sort of learning curve.
Think about the latest big changes in teams across the league and you'll see that the norm is struggle and then success.
The thing is, he is the type of player you want on your side and he has shown his ability to lead a basketball team to victory and has also shown how much he really wants to win championships.
When the Lakers lost in the 2008 Finals and Gasol was criticized for being weak, he hit the gym and prepared himself for the following season. It's these types of characteristics that you can't teach and it is another reason for why the Lakers should not forget him.
The rest of season holds plenty of difficult opponents and as NBA Champions, every team will play their best against them.
After all, in order to be the best, you have to beat the best, right?