Pau Gasol: How Important Is His Offensive Improvement to the Los Angeles Lakers?

Many of the Lakers' earlier struggles were due to age old issues the team has been facing for years such as age, complacency and a lack of offensive balance, or more bluntly, the ball hogging ways of Kobe Bryant. 

The Lakers' spotty offense thus far has attracted a lot of attention and criticism. Ron Artest's offensive production has simply been swallowed alive in the Lakers' depth, and the bench, despite being considerably upgraded over the offseason, has played extremely well in spurts but has also gone through extended stretches of futility, and Bryant is still on pace for his least efficient season in years.

The Lakers led the league in scoring for the first couple of weeks but since have fallen victim to inconsistencies in their overall game. Despite the spottiness of his teammates, Gasol had taken a substantial amount of the blame for the Lakers' earlier struggles.

The media has repeatedly blasted him, and coach Phil Jackson has called out Pau Gasol several times this season already, publicly calling out for him to "inflict some pain" some time in November and even using the dreaded "s word"  after the Lakers' embarrassing Christmas Day loss to the Heat saying that Gasol had "no base" in his shots and that his shot release was "soft".

One might have thought that the blame could be attributed to the Lakers' sporadic efforts in involving Gasol on offense. 

The Lakers last four losses, to the Bucks, Heat, Spurs and Grizzlies, all came by 16 or more points; respectively Gasol took 12, 17, eight and nine shots.

That level of inconsistency in the amount of touches a player gets can drive him mad or worse, demoralize him. Getting Gasol involved on offense shouldn't be very difficult given that he's very skilled at handling the ball, arguably the best in the league at doing so for his position. 

The problem is that the Lakers' perimeter players often cut through the...

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