Steve Nash Will Turn Pau Gasol into Versatile Weapon LA Lakers Desperately Need

Pau Gasol needs Steve Nash more than anyone else on the Los Angeles Lakers.

End of story.

Yes, Nash stands to help both Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard take their games to new heights, but without him, they remain two of the most dominant players at their respective positions.

Gasol, though? Not so much.

Unlike his comrades, he has been forced to play outside of his comfort zone. Sure, Bryant has been tasked with playing a bit of small forward, but that's essentially interchangeable with with the shooting guard position—especially in Mike D'Antoni's system.

The same cannot be said of the conventional power forward role and that of a stretch forward. One embodies the art of low-post play, while the other lives and dies by his perimeter accuracy. 

Gasol has been asked to assume the role of the latter, and the results have been overwhelmingly horrific. Currently, the four-time All-Star is averaging a career-worst 12.3 points on 41.3-percent shooting. Though some would like to attribute his decline in production to age and diminishing durability, I'd be lying if I didn't admit I believe they're wrong.

Los Angeles' big man is indeed older, but this drop in production is more indicative of a systematic failure than anything.

Take Gasol's best season as a Laker. During the 2008-09 campaign, 69 percent of his shot attempts came within nine feet. The result? He averaged 18.9 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor.

Fast forward to this year, and 53.4 percent of his field-goals attempts are now coming outside of nine feet. 

Is that a problem? His 27.9 conversion rate from such distances would say yes. 

Attribute Gasol's demise to age and diminutive health all you want, but the absence of a post game is what has truly crippled him thus far.

Clearly, there isn't enough room for both Howard and Gasol to operate in the paint. ...

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