Pau Gasol’s Absence Proves Embattled Forward Isn’t the Problem for Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled all season with Pau Gasol and are now doing the same without him. Somehow, though, the embattled power forward has become the lightning rod for criticism and the one player who everyone points to as the biggest problem in Los Angeles.

This has led to benchings from coach Mike D'Antoni and a cabal of trade rumors before Gasol went down with a knee injury. 

While the trade waters have calmed down since Gasol initially left the lineup, the damage is done. The 32-year-old Spaniard is the next scapegoat in line, just waiting to be shipped out of town if things continue spiraling down the drain. 

When, and if, that happens, shipping off Gasol would be over-reactionary nonsense directly in line with the team's firing of Mike Brown after just five games. 

For those needing evidence of Gasol's value, one doesn't have to look too hard to find it. 

Gasol will miss his sixth straight game on Thursday night against the Knicks. The Lakers are 1-4 in the first five games of Gasol's absence, while just one game under .500 with him in the lineup.

According to, the Lakers average 111.4 points per 100 possessions with Gasol on the court, which is little higher than the league-leading Thunder. When he's off the court? That number dips to 107.1 points per 100 possessions.

Los Angeles is also far better defensively (102.2 points allowed per possession on the floor versus 108.4 when he's off) with Gasol, so you get the point. Yet, a package spearheaded by Andrea Bargnani or Derrick Williams will somehow solve the ills?


All of that is to say Gasol is still an extremely effective force, despite having the worst season of his career. Gasol is putting up career lows in points per game (12.6) and field goal percentage (42.0), while grabbing his least amount of rebounds (8.9) in a half-decade <...

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