Could Pau Gasol Be the Remedy to the Lakers’ Hack-a-Howard Issue?

While the blogosphere continues to talk about whether or not Pau Gasol will be traded, let's take a look at how he can help this team when he gets back from resting his tendinitis-laced knees.

There’s no doubt that the Spaniard is having one of the roughest seasons of his career, but we can still look for him to help out the Lakers upon his return—especially when Hack-A-Howard is in play. 

It’s not a secret that Howard is struggling from the free-throw line. Right now, he’s averaging the lowest free-throw percentage while taking the second-most attempts from the line in his career.

Opposing teams have taken advantage of Howard’s struggles from the line by employing the Hack-A-Howard strategy late in fourth quarters. For the most part, the strategy has worked. Howard is averaging less than one point per possession, and while the Lakers defense continues to struggle, teams are trading less than one point for two or three to either close the gap or extend a lead of their own for three-to-four minutes per game.

The problem can be remedied one of two ways: Either Dwight Howard makes his free throws or Pau Gasol plays without Howard on the floor until the two-minute mark is reached and the fouling strategy is no longer legal. 

On the surface, removing who may be your team’s best player during crunch time may seem counterproductive—especially when you consider that Gasol is averaging the fewest points per game (12.6) while also shooting the worst percentage of his illustrious career (42 percent).

But the story gets a little bit different when you look at Gasol’s numbers with Howard on and off the court. 

Take a look at the numbers on the left, which represent where Gasol has taken his shots and how effective he’s been from those locations.

The most important number in the chart on the left is ...

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