Latest News, NBA / Dec 16, 2009 / 9:30 am

Pau Gasol Makes The Lakers Invincible

Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol has only played in 50 percent of the games this year, yet his impact has been greater than most of the guys who have played the entire season. After missing the first 11 games with a hamstring injury, Gasol came back and immediately helped the Lakers win 10 straight games. The team is now 12-1 since the All-Star forward returned to the lineup.

There is no question that Gasol is the x-factor for this Lakers team. Ever since Shaq left town, the team had been desperately looking to find a competent interior presence to compliment Kobe. Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm couldn’t do it for them and up until this season, Andrew Bynum was too young, too raw and too injury prone to fill that void. When Gasol was traded L.A. in February of 2008, his versatile skill set in the post proved to be the missing piece to the Lakers’ championship puzzle.

The Lakers have not lost three straight games once since Pau has worn the purple and gold. For the season, Gasol has averaged 17.6 points, 11.5 boards, 4.1 assists and 1.3 blocks per contest. In the past three games alone, he’s averaged 18.6 rpg including two straight 20-rebound outings. With so many people on the roster that need shots, Pau has been getting the majority of his point production through layups and put backs off of offensive boards. It’s safe to say Gasol has finally shaken the “soft” label that haunted him ever since he entered the NBA.

After Bynum went down last season, Gasol picked up the slack in the post. Now that Bynum is at 100 percent and having an All-Star season, the two big men form the best frontcourt in the league. Add Ron Artest’s defense, Derek Fisher’s veteran leadership and the scoring ability from a guy named Kobe, and you got yourself the deepest and most talented starting lineup in the NBA. And with Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown highlighting the bench, the Lakers are the odds on favorites to repeat as champs.

Of course nothing is perfect. After losing to Utah a few nights ago, Gasol was upset about the number of touches he got. At times, having Bynum share the post with him can make Gasol feel crowded. Kobe recently fractured his finger and even though he is playing through the pain, only time will tell whether it will affect him down the line. The team has also played the majority of their games at home, so they have yet to really be tested on the road.

But even with those issues, the fact remains that the Lakers are 19-4 and are making a b-line towards their third straight Finals appearance. And though he doesn’t get a lot of touches, shots or headlines, you can bet L.A. can’t repeat without Pau in the lineup.

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  • Sideswipe

    Steal of the century was the Lakeshow getting Gasol. No doubt in my mind that the Lakers will repeat as world champs as long as everybody stays healthy. Cannot wait till Xmas day for Lakers vs Cavs.

  • calvin brodus

    no team is invincible. even though laker fans may try to tell you otherwise.

    and dont overlook that LA doesnt even have the best record in the league and has still played fewer road games than any other team in the nba.

    calvin brodus, bringing the laker hate.

  • KnicksFan84

    I wouldn’t call it a steal. Marc Gasol is turning into a borderline All-Star.

  • Claw

    Marc Gasol borderline All-Star?
    That’s a borderline comment, are you serious?

    The fallout was greater, the Suns reached on the Shaq deal and gave up Marion and also said goodbye to the best record in the L and ended up missing the playoffs.

    Dallas trades Devin Harris for Kidd, all Devin does is make the All Star team.

    For Pau he was getting booed by the hometown fans, then he goes to a team that knows how to ball and he’s not the focal point and he has flourished. If the Lakers don’t make that move would they have won a championship without Gasol?

  • Dagomar

    Maybe KnicksFan, but Gasol is a top-3 PF in the game today.

  • sh!tfaced

    Say what you want about Kobe… hands down all-time great… will challenge MJ when his career is through… and all that shit… blah, blah, blah… but it is Pau Gasol that makes these current Lakers a really great team…

  • sh!tfaced

    The only way Marc Gasol will be an All-Star is when there will be enough dumbass fans that will mistake him for Pau Gasol during the All-Star voting…

  • Rodney

    You wouldn’t call that trade a steal?

  • Ekstor

    Marc is equivalent to Pau, but some of you sound like you have no idea how Marc is playing.

    Here’s Marc Gasol statistics for this year:
    14.4 pts
    9.8 rebs
    2.1 asts
    1.5 blks
    1.0 stls
    61.1% FG

    Those are solid all-around numbers. On top of that he’s a legit 7-1, 265lbs and only 24 years of age.

    The Lakers got the better of the trade, but Memphis got a very good center prospect who’s already in double-double territory, shooting above 60%, and will continue to get better.

    I’d say considering Memphis was going nowhere with Pau and needed to rebuild, the trade ended up working out well for them. No other likely trade scenario could have produced a young center prospect like Marc.

  • Ekstor

    Sorry… I meant to say Marc is NOT equivalent to Pau… everything else stands.

  • LakeShow84

    Lol everyone keep sleeping on Marco Gasol.. Dont know about Allstar but he got 15&10 written all over him.. but the move was more about cap space right?? can anyone even name who Shaq was just traded for?? lol

    And considering Gasol wouldnt and isnt considered a HOF i say trading KG to the Celtics for 5-8 players (video game style) is the steal of the decade..

    Team are on record saying they offered more than the Wolves but McHale still shipped KG for scraps.. Oh my bad Jefferson is a beast :/

  • Ekstor

    BTW… while it’s true that Pau has really pushed the Lakers over the top, don’t forget that the Lakers had the best record in the Western Conference a few weeks prior to the Gasol trade, right when Bynum went down two years ago.

    So this Lakers team was already reaching contender status… Paul turned them into the Western favorite.

  • go go

    pau is the MVP of that team..think about it

  • Promoman

    Pau does need more touches.

  • http://dime eyes

    Pau is the X factor. W/O Kobe this team doesn’t make the playoffs. Ron Artest can’t make Bynum,Gasol,& Odom tough. It’s still going to come down to team. As it stands the Lakers do not. I repeat have a better team top to bottom than Orlando & Boston. A Basketball purist would know that. Media,You tube,scouts,analysts,Kobe,Lebron,Magic can tell me no different. Not being biased aside from having Mamba,Jesus Christ himself. The Lakers are a avg team. Pau couldn’t win in Memphis. Kobe was leading a team w/ a foul prone Shaq through the Tough West all those years. He was the starter,bench,finisher & everything else. It wasn’t Shaq getting game winners. If Shaq didn’t play with Kobe he may have no rings. Oh yeah he ran & joined on with a Superstar himself. I love Shaq but he’d tell you how good Kobe is when he retires.

    A lot of people don’t like him because he doesn’t like them. The Man is as talented as they come. Drexler,Ray Allen,Reggie,Dr.J,A.Toney might had some problems with Cocaine Kobe man. He’s 6’5″ with everything King James doesnt have. Why did Gilbert Arenas give the Lakers 61 & the Suns 55 in the same week with a W. Just a toss in. LMAO. I wish Gilbert gets traded to the Cavs for Mo Williams. How ironic would that be. He had Kobe mad after that game. To get under a defensive STOPPER like that’s skin says something about the man’s talent. I’m blaming Flip Saunders for the Wis POOR season. Try making Derek Fisher or Tony Parker set up people. Pau Gasol can you teach Mr. Howard in the off season some post moves

  • Claw

    So an All Star is 14 points and ALMOST 10 boards now? ZBo on the same team has more points and boards than Marc, not saying he isn’t good but don’t know about All Star level.

    Centers are thin, but not just stats but centers on good teams you’d have to put Amare, brother Gasol, Bynum, Nene, Kaman, Okur, Scola, and heck even Jason Thompson has about the same numbers as Marc. Not buying the AS talk, but better than average I’d go with.

  • coolperson

    the cavs. are definitly going to win the camp. this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • HoopsFanMike

    I WAS looking forward to X-mas day for a few months since the schedules were released, but I really think that it’s going to be a mismatch. Kobe/Artest can contain LeBron, Cleveland has shown they have no reliable scoring option outside of King James except for an occasional appearance by Mo Williams.

    Lakers are shoo-in’s to make their third finals, their only real competition in the west is the Nuggs. Only two teams though have even a shot at the Lakers – that being the Celts & Magic. Should be a slow & methodical romp through the regular season though for the Lakers, only drama being if they can surpass their 10-gm spread on the rest of the west like they did last year…

  • HoopsFanMike

    As for McHale plundering his last team to help his beloved Celtics, let me ask you this:

    Lakers offered Bynum, Lamar, Kwame’s cap space of almost $15-mil expiring contract plus 2 first round picks.

    Celtics offered Al Jefferson and a boatload of wash-ups.

    Which was the better trade? Ol’ Kevin McHale screwed the T’Wolves because his true allegiance was with the green. It worked out to the best in the end for the Lakers because Kwame’s contract brought Pau who’s 4+ yrs younger than KG without giving up Lamar.

    Props to Kupchack who did a hell of a job putting this Laker team together, even dealing with being turned down in trades because of allegiances that GM’s have with their former teams and not wanting to help ‘the rich get richer’…

  • Ekstor

    @ Claw

    No one here is saying Marc is an all-star… the closest anyone came was calling him a “borderline” one. He won’t get in… neither does he deserve to. My point was that the trade wasn’t as lop-sided as it originally appeared given they have a young, 7-1, 265lb double-double center shooting 61% and blocking 1.5 shots per game.

  • http://yahoo.com Shakashi

    pau gasol
    sucks if the cornerstone of the franchise

    excels as a 2nd option of a franchise

  • Marty Fern

    Pau actually is a franchise player, on par with the all-time greats, which is why LA is so good: they have two franchise players on one team.

    He was simply never given a guy of even marginal talent to play with, while in Memphis, as his second-in-command. Because of this, when he led the Griz to their only three playoff appearances, including a 50 win season in the more talented (especially at the time) west, he was unable to get a playoff win. Who was going to help him? Mike Miller? Battier? Old Eddie Jones?

    Pau played his heart out against the Mavs in the Griz’s last playoff appearance. He took it to Nowitzki, left everything out on the floor; but his team didn’t help him, they couldn’t rise to the occasion. It was an achievement that he even got them to the playoffs, with such a washed up group.

    LA, by the way, wasn’t doing squat, before Gasol. They missed the playoffs one year, got bumped in the first round another. Then they got Gasol, and things skyrocketed.

    Please know a little more than that he didn’t have a playoff win before LA. If the guy had a Joe Johnson, Michael Redd, V.C., any of those on the Griz, Memphis would have been contending. The guy just can’t do it alone, just like Kobe couldn’t.

    I’d like to see Pau move on, after his contract is up, to a team where they want him to serve as the franchise. I bet you they’ll be contenders. Then again, you guys will just attribute it to Kobe building him up. Pssssst!

  • guru

    PAU is on of the most underated players in this league, but its all about who shots more times…

    Pau last game against the BUCKS had 26 PTS (9/15) and 22 REB 4 BLKS…
    Kobe had 39 PTS (13/28) missed 15 shots thats Gasol tries, but at the end he gets a lot of free shots from the FT (that offensive foul)would give the BUCKS the win…But he`s KOBE…A SUPERSTAR HE can move his pivot like he did against the bulls and the commentators just say “thats a good shot with his left hand”, or like LJAMES that can go from his FT to the basket with just one drible, or kick the ball and then dribles it again…

  • http://dime eyes

    Pau Gasol is a beast. Not a 1 option nor can he LEAD a team to the finals. He beasted Bogut,Warrick,Delfino,K.Thomas and Luc for the rebounds. Show up against the Celtics they we’ll talk. Don’t let Garnett on his decline 1yr after surgery abuse you. Then I’ll welcome him into the big dog’s house. Again guys the Lakers have Shannon Brown,Brian Shaw,R.Harper,R.Foxx,D.Fisher(President) starting and playing well. Somehow I think it’s more than Pau Pau.

  • brodusbetme

    They do now, Brodus.