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Blueprint for Pau Gasol to Return to All-Star Form

September 21st, 2013 at 8:11 PM
By Anousheh Emadi

Not long ago, Pau Gasol was considered one of the best big men in the NBA. He made great contributions during the two title runs for the Los Angeles Lakers, and he was Kobe Bryant's partner in crime.

'Paul Gasol' photo (c) 2008, WDPG share - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

However, last season under head coach Mike D'Antoni, Gasol had his worst statistical season as a pro, averaging only 13.7 points while shooting 46 percent from the field. Of course, there are many factors that played into Gasol's underachieving season, which included his inability to stay healthy, the limited touches he received in D'Antoni's offense, and Dwight Howard being L.A.'s primary big man.

Even though last year was Gasol's worst season, in the month of April he averaged 17.5 points, 12.1 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.3 blocks per game where the Lakers won seven of their eight games in their push to making the playoffs. 

In other words, the production is still there.

Now that Howard left to the Houston Rockets, how can Pau Gasol return to All-Star form?

1) Be Aggressive

While the Spaniard has the appropriate skill set to be one of the best big men in the league, his aggressive motor in recent years has declined. Gasol must go down on the low post, and demand the ball. From there, he can score inside-out or pass the ball to an open wing player.

Due to the minimal depth at the power forward and center position, the 33-year-old will be L.A.'s primary big man, which will give him many opportunities to score.

Being aggressive is the first step for Pau to regain All-Star status.

2) Stay Healthy

Gasol's health was a big concern for the Lakers in the 2012-13 season.

He played in just 49 games and as a result, he never had the chance to jell with his new teammates. The inability of playing with Howard wasn't the only chemistry issue that Gasol had.

Steve Nash and Pau were suppose to be a dominant pick-and-roll/ pick-and-pop duo, but that never went according to plan. Nash missed 32 contests, and he averaged the fewest assists since 1999-00. Clearly, chemistry between the two was never fully established. 

Thus, staying healthy is one of the most important keys for Gasol to rejuvenate his career. 

3) Stick to Center

While D'Antoni loves having a stretch four in his open court offense, Gasol simply cannot fulfill that role. The 7-foot-0 center clearly plays his best basketball at the center position.

With Chris Kaman being the only other true center (besides Robert Sacre) on the roster, Gasol can go back to being the team's starting center.

As a center last season, Gasol posted an impressive PER of 22, in compared to a mere PER of 15.4 while playing power forward. He also averaged 22.9 points per 48 minutes at the center position. Needless to say, Gasol is a much more efficient player at center.

The Spaniard's versatile play on offense gives the Lakers a multidimensional player that can score inside-out, and showcase his excellent play making abilities at the post. Not many centers in the NBA possess Gasol's versatile skills.

Although Pau Gasol is already a future Hall of Fame player, he should regain his status as an All-Star this season if he follows this blueprint.        

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Tags: All Star, Basketball, big men, Center, Chris Kaman, Dwight Howard, Forward, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Lakers, Mike D'Antoni, NBA, Pau Gasol, season, Steve Nash

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