L.A. Lakers: Has Pau Gasol Passed Kobe Bryant As Hollywood’s Leading Act?

The Los Angeles Lakers have started the 2010-11 season with an impressive 7-0 record, and forward Pau Gasol's play has to be one of the major reasons the team's quest for a third straight championship has begun so well.

Gasol captured the NBA's first Player of the Week award and is an early candidate for the MVP award, and in the minds of some people, he may have even passed Kobe Bryant as the Lakers' best player.

Come again?

This is not the first time that honor has been bestowed upon Gasol, as there is a contingent of people who feel Gasol is directly responsible for the Lakers' recent string of success, but this may be the first time that Gasol's numbers actually support that claim.

Gasol is the Lakers leading scorer at 24.1 points per game, the second leading rebounder at 10.9 rebounds per game, he shoots 54 percent from the field, and more importantly, Gasol leads the team in assists at 5.0 per game.

It's pretty impressive when your most dominant interior presence is also your best playmaker, and although Gasol's numbers make a very strong case in his favor, there are a number of other factors that must be considered.

The first is Bryant's knee injury and the manner in which he has looked to start this season as a facilitator as opposed to the Lakers' primary scoring threat.

Gasol not only leads the Lakers in scoring, but he has attempted more shots from the field than anyone else, which is evidence that Bryant is comfortable in his role as the second leading man, at least for now.

Also, the absence of injured center Andrew Bynum has played a major role in Gasol's early season dominance, because the versatility of forward Lamar Odom gives coach Phil Jackson more options in the post.

Odom's ability to slide to the perimeter often creates more space for Gasol to operate in the post, and it doesn't hurt that Odom has had the most efficient start to a se...

About the Author