Building Definitive Case for LA Lakers to Start Pau Gasol over Earl Clark

Pau Gasol is no longer expendable to the Los Angeles Lakers' starting lineup.

Proponents of Gasol as a second-unit anchor (including myself) understand that the Spaniard can be a valuable weapon coming off the bench.

Not only is he then a perennial All-Star going toe-to-toe with namely backups, but he also gets to spend more time at center, where he has excelled. In the midst of the worst season he's ever had, Gasol is posting a 23.2 PER at the 5. Dwight Howard himself (20.8) hasn't even matched that performance.

As Gasol continues to navigate his way back to the hardwood (setbacks and all, per, though, it's less about his value as a pine-rider and more about what he does for the Lakers both now and in the immediate future.


Earl Clark's Struggles

Earl Clark's run of tapered greatness is officially over.

Though the stretch forward still plays some nice on-ball defense, his offense has regressed to the mean over the last 10 games or so.

In the last 10 contests, Clark has eclipsed 10 points just twice and is shooting just 37.7 percent from the field. He's also logged more than 30 minutes just once, which is quite a drop considering he received 30 or more in 10 of Los Angeles' previous 15 games.

What the Lakers also have to take into consideration is how Clark is faring alongside their most valuable players. And by "most valuable," we are of course referring to Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.

When Clark and Howard are on the floor together, Los Angeles is outscoring opponents by an average of 1.1 points per 100 possessions. 

Underwhelming? Absolutely, but it's a far better result than when he's playing next to Kobe or Nash.

The Lakers are being outscored by an average of 4.9 points per 100 possessions when Nash and Clark are playing simultaneously, and that deficit climbs to 6.7 whe...

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