Pivot Points: Is This The New Pau Gasol? Can The Lakers Keep Him?

After watching Los Angeles Laker Pau Gasol turn in his second consecutive performance of 21 points, 19 rebounds, and five blocks, we were reminded of why many feel he is the most skilled big man in all of basketball.

For the second game in a row, Gasol was the best player on the floor, and he was just as dominant in cooling down the ultra-hot Jazz as he was out-playing Tim Duncan and his San Antonio Spurs.

I'm not all that familiar with this new and improved version of Gasol, but I'm sure there are scores of fans in Los Angeles wishing that this model of the Spaniard will hang around for a little while.

Gasol's problem has never been talent, but rather assertiveness and aggressiveness, and constantly having to deal with the perception that he is physically soft and avoids hard contact.

Well the guy masquerading around in the purple and gold jersey with number 16 stamped on it is nothing like that, and even though Gasol's 42 points and 38 rebounds the past two games are huge, it's the 10 blocks that raise eyebrows.

Why? Soft players don't usually account for such a high number of blocks in the course of two games, and if they do it's usually because they are not contained to the paint.

Players like LeBron James and Gerald Wallace get a high number of rejections because of their ability as great help side defenders. A majority of their blocks come against un-suspecting victims.

But in Gasol's case, he has been continuously challenged at the rim, and he has responded with one of the more superb defensive stretches in recent Laker history.

With Andrew Bynum still hurting, Gasol has paired with Lamar Odom to give the Lakers one of the most athletic, versatile, and talented combinations at the power forward and center position in the NBA.

It's no accident that Gasol performs better when Bynum is out of the game, as this is a phenomenon which has become common k...

About the Author