Pau Gasol: Lakers Star Poised to Dominate Now That He’s off Trade Block

It's the dawn of a new beginning for the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, and most importantly, Pau Gasol.

Last season, the going wasn't easy for the star power forward. Yes, he averaged a double-double, but his 17.4 points per game was a career worst, and his PER of 20.51 was his worst since his rookie season.

Though such numbers would hardly be indicative of an off-year for most players, more was expected of Gasol, a four-time All-Star who had established himself as one of the most formidable forwards in the NBA.

Many began to attribute his statistical decline and diminishing value as a championship pillar to age. He was in his 11th season and pushing 32, after all.

But Gasol's struggles, his inability to exude dominance, didn't have anything to do with his age. It did, however, have everything to do with the environmental instability that surrounded him. He became the subject of numerous and incessant rumors, rumblings that had him leaving the Lakers and heading to a different team almost every week.

And the strain it put on Gasol was obvious. The points per contest still piled up, but weren't accumulated in the same confident manner we had come to know, come to expect and come to embrace. His shots still fell half the time, yet his consistency was waning. He still crashed the glass and played some defense, yet not with the same aggression.

Something was wrong.

Then came the playoffs. Though the postseason is far from pressure-free, Gasol at least knew he would remain in Los Angeles for the time being. The trade deadline had come and gone, and he had stayed. Surely this was the time for him to turn it around.

But Gasol appeared worse than ever. In 11 postseason contests he averaged 12.5 points and 9.5 rebounds on 43.4 percent shooting, confirming the worst—the once prolific sidekick of Bryant had become a non-factor.

The ...

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