How LA Lakers Have Re-Invented Pau Gasol’s Role and Why It’s Working

With Kobe Bryant and Mike D'Antoni now both aboard his bandwagon, Pau Gasol is looking a lot more like Pau Gasol.

Not just the Pau of last season or the one before, but of 2010, when he averaged 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds on 53.6 percent shooting, and when the Los Angeles Lakers won their last championship. 

Yeah, that Pau.

Since returning to the lineup after an extensive battle with a partially torn plantar fascia, he's been a little less 2013, and a lot more 2010.

Gasol is averaging 14.2 points and 8.6 rebounds on 53.7 shooting since rejoining the team. Over his last eight, he's putting up 16.4 points and 8.8 rebounds on 58.3 percent shooting. And over his last five, he's posting 18 points and 10 rebounds on 58.8 percent shooting.

He has also tallied 22 points in two straight games and scored in double-figures in eight consecutive games, his longest stretch of the season.

"That's 2010 Pau," Bryant said after the Lakers' victory over the New Orleans Hornets (via Sam Amick of USA Today).

To really understand how important it is for Kobe to say those three words, we must understand how far Gasol had previously fallen.

Prior to his last 10 contests, Pau had appeared in just 36 of Los Angeles' first 69 games. He was struggling to stay healthy and find a spot in the fourth-quarter rotation, and his averages of 13.4 points on 45.3 percent shooting (both of which were career lows) left both him and everyone in Tinseltown wondering if he wasn't more valuable as trade fodder.

The trade deadline came to pass and (injured) Gasol remained. He returned in the midst of a (slight) midseason surge to find the Lakers 36-33 and in the thick of the playoff hunt.

Los Angeles lost three of the first four games with Pau back in the lineup but has since won five of the last six. The Lakers have yet to clinch a playoff berth, but Gasol is back to being pro...

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