Los Angeles Lakers Must Use Pau Gasol as a Playmaker, Not as a Novelty

The Los Angeles Lakers announced on January 14th that Pau Gasol will not play when the team welcomes the Milwaukee Bucks to the Staples Centers on January 15th:

From Lakers PR: Pau Gasol will not play tomorrow night against the Bucks.

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 14, 2013  

It'll be the fifth game in a row that Gasol has missed since suffering a concussion during a 112-105 loss to the Denver Nuggets, and the 13th overall in the 2012-13 NBA season from which Pau has been absent on account of injury. LA's 113-93 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 13th moved their record to 4-8 sans Gasol.

Not that he's been all that present for them this season to begin with. A long summer spent carrying Spain to the gold medal game of the 2012 London Olympics, combined with the wear-and-tear inflicted by Father Time, left Pau's knees in a sorry state to start the season.

Though, really, his continued dip in productivity likely has had plenty to with his, errr, "evolving" role within the Lakers' offense, as well. Prior to his most recent run of DNPs, Gasol was posting career lows in points (12.2), field-goal attempts (11.2) and field-goal percentage (.416), and was averaging his fewest rebounds (8.4) since 2007-08, when he made his debut in Purple and Gold.

As Grantland's Kirk Goldsberry is often keen to note, a precipitous decline in field-goal accuracy by any prominent player typically has as much to with where the shots are coming as it does with how he's shooting them, if not more so. This particular theorem holds true in Gasol's case.

According to Hoopdata, Gasol is attempting significantly fewer shots per game between the rim and 15 feet out than he ever has since at least 2006-07, and certainly since he's been a Laker. All the while, his average attempts from between 16 and 23 feet and from behind the three-point line continue to climb.
Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers