The Lakers need to solve the Pau Gasol problem
Kobe called out Pau Gasol for his play once again. Pau has been struggling all year and is putting up career lows across the board. The Lakers have been losing even with Mike D’Antoni as the coach and Kobe having a great start. Kobe was a dick about it of course because Kobe’s always kind of a dick and told Pau to stop whining and put on his big boy pants. Kobe also pointed out his changed role this season (he handles the ball more? That’s what Kobe said but I’m calling bullshit. Kobe has the green light to shoot when ever and where ever he wants; he gets props for playing so efficiently this year but you ain't doing anything THAT new dude). Kobe wants Pau to start producing at his old rate in a completely different role. A role that Pau himself has said repeatedly doesn’t suit him. D’Antoni has benched Pau in the fourth quarter, which is something that has never happened in his career. In the media D’Antoni has walked a fine line between kind of supporting Pau and calling him out like Kobe did. And of course there are the panicky Laker fans who want Pau traded (the majority of you confuse me. Pau Gasol is the reason the Lakers won their last two championships. I can understand trading him by why are you so mad?)
My feeling is that Kobe and every one else need to go the other way. The Lakers are not winning shit without Pau playing well and the path they should take isn’t telling dude to suck it up and start producing or else, its to play to Pau’s strengths. There are many articles detailing Pau’s falloff this year and mountains of evidence that Pau has a point. He is NOT a jump shooter. Pau needs the ball in the post. When Pau was one of the top players in the league and the Lakers were winning titles Pau shot almost half of his shots at the rim. This year he shots from there less than 20 % of the time. Pau can hit the jumper if open but in those days only around 15% Pau's shots were jumpers, compared to almost half of his shot attempts now. Its crazy. Imagine if teams asked Shaq to change his game and shot 20 footers late in his career. Sure Pau can do that, but it isn’t his strength and if the Lakers continue to use him that way they are stupid. Underneath all of this are the reports of tendentious in Pau’s knees, which clearly are affecting his game. There is a strong possibility that Pau’s regression has much do with his knees, especially on the defensive end where Pau is often too upright. Pau’s jumper is also slowed down, as he has been unable to get his legs into his shots.
Last week Chris Webber and Kenny Smith from Inside the NBA broke it down for the Lakers. And yo! I said this three weeks ago after I saw the Lakers in person against the Spurs. Pau and Dwight need to switch positions some of the time, if not all of the time. Pau is a great post player and so-so when he’s asked to work form the high post setting picks. Dwight is effective in the post but is not on Pau’s level and also is one of the best pick and roll finishers in the game. So Dwight should be out there setting picks and Pau should be chilling on the block. And then there’s the Laker defense, where athletic power forwards are burning Pau and guards driving go the rim. Dwight is more equipped to handle those issues and Pau is more equipped to guard old school big men. It boggles my mind that Mike D’Antoni hasn’t tried this yet. I know Dwight isn’t in great shape right now but playing Antawn Jamison over Pau Gasol is not the answer. Ever.
Mike D’Antoni is gonna need to figure this out soon before the mob claims him like it claimed Mike brown. Steve Nash will help the Lakers when he returns no doubt and to be fair, we can’t really judge D’Antoni’s vision until he has his visionary point guard at his disposal. Steve’s presence alone will space the floor much better for LA and if he’s running the show may allow the Lakers to utilize all of their great talents. The Laker’s supporting cast is weak (except my man Jordan Hill who has seen less minute now that D’Antoni is coaching) and as great as Kobe is playing, his isn’t up to carrying the team on his back anymore. Kobe can still score but his days as a good defender may be gone for good (maybe he’s just lazy right now) and the Laker’s lack of defense is on the guards inability to stay in front of ANYONE more than Pau Gasol or Dwight. Pau and Dwight are put in tough spots everytime a guard blows by a Laker guard and it damn near happens every play. Of a course a in-shape Dwight will solve that problem more often than not and Laker fans wait continue to play the waiting game in the meantime.
The Pau Gasol problem needs to be addressed now though. Dude needs the ball in the post and Dwight needs to get his pick n roll on even if it causes #24 to lose some shots. Kobe needs those dudes to produce and he may be better off letting them play to their strengths instead of demanding they do it his way.