Kobe Bryant Not Los Angeles Lakers MVP: Pau Gasol Now Center of Value in LA

On Sunday night against the Golden State Warriors, Pau Gasol was perfect. He shot 10-of-10 from the field and 8-of-8 from the charity stripe.

Gasol also added nine rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots while turning the ball over just once. If you want to really go into details of the perfect performance, he didn't even commit a single personal foul.

Pau Gasol is the most valuable player that the Los Angeles Lakers have this season.

Part of this can be attributed to a slight decline in the play of Kobe Bryant, but most of it relates to Pau Gasol having a career season. Gasol is averaging a career-high 22.8 points per game, and his field goal and free throw percentages are at career highs in his 11th season.

It's not just his shooting and scoring efficiency that has improved; Gasol has improved across the board in every facet of his game. Aside from just averaging a double-double for the second consecutive year, Gasol has improved his statistics in rebounding, assists and turnovers.

One reason Gasol is able to produce such statistically significant numbers is because he is able to stay on the court. Throughout his career, he has been able to average just 2.4 personal fouls per game. Consequently, without being sent to the bench early for foul trouble, Gasol is able to remain on the court and rack up the stats.

Looking at Gasol's ability to stay out of foul trouble compared to Dwight Howard demonstrates how underrated the category of personal fouls can be in evaluating statistics. Howard has averaged 3.9 personal fouls per game this season. As a result, he is playing almost five fewer minutes per game than Gasol, and thus his relative statistics have suffered.

But this is not about Pau Gasol versus other top centers in the league. Pau Gasol is by no means the most valuable player in the NBA, although his numbers so far do deserve some consideration.

This is about ho...

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