Pau Gasol’s Return Is Exactly What LA Lakers Need

The Los Angeles Lakers had a vision, a championship vision constructed around four perennial All-Stars, one of which was Pau Gasol. And one of which is still Pau Gasol.

According to Dave McMenamin of, Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni expects both Kobe Bryant and Gasol to be in the lineup against the Washington Wizards, increasing the anxiety behind how the big man will fare within Los Angeles' current setup.

A two-time NBA champion and four-time All-Star, Gasol was in the midst of the worst season of his career before he was sidelined indefinitely with a partially torn plantar fascia. His season averages presently stand at 13.4 points on 45.3 percent shooting, both of which are career lows, and his 15.8 PER (also a career low) is the first time he's ever posted one under 19.

A decline in production, coupled with the natural regression of age, injuries and Los Angeles' sub-.500 record left many questioning whether or not Gasol had a future with the Lakers, including Pau himself.

Finally above .500 and with a not-so-firm hold on the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot, the evidence would seem to suggest the Lakers are actually better off without the Spaniard.

Los Angeles is 13-7 in the first 20 games since Gasol last played and averaged 102 points per contest during that time, the fourth most of any team in the league.

Just because the Lakers have been able to put some points on the board and secure some victories doesn't mean they're not in need of what Gasol does, though, because they are.

Kobe and company are both shallow and battered. They need to get deeper and some additionally reliable production must be obtained. Regardless of if he starts or comes off the bench, Gasol does just that.

Hollywood has managed to score in bunches during Gasol's absence, but they've also allowed the third-most points over the ...

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