What’s Wrong with LA Lakers’ Pau Gasol?

The numbers don't lie.  Pau Gasol of the L.A. Lakers is having the worst statistical season of his illustrious 13-year career.

Considering he's had an entire summer to rest and rehabilitate his legs after an injury-plagued 2012-13 campaign, why does the 33-year-old seven-foot Spaniard continue to struggle with his offensive production?

The answer is pretty obvious: Pau misses Kobe.

In order to thrive, Gasol needs great complementary pieces, and none has been as good for his career as Kobe Bryant.

Sure, Bryant was around most of last season when Gasol's numbers plummeted, but the four-time All-Star missed 33 games due to various injuries and only late in the campaign did he find some semblance of basketball rhythm.

Pau Gasol was the missing piece the Los Angeles Lakers sought when they traded Kwame Brown to the Memphis Grizzlies for the seven-foot Spaniard five-and-a-half years ago.

Following three straight trips to the NBA Finals and two consecutive championships, Gasol was atop the basketball world as a perennial All-Star.

The Lakers system that Gasol came into was ideal.  As the Lakers roared into the NBA Finals with Pau in 2008, the center averaged 18.8 points per game and made close to 60 percent of his shots.  He followed that up with three more years of over 18 points per game on 53-57 percent shooting.

With Bryant playing at the highest level and scoring 27-28 points per game for over three years, Gasol flourished as the second option in Phil Jackson's triangle offense.



With Mike Brown as head coach in the strike-shortened 2011-12 season, Gasol saw his shooting percentage drop to 50 percent and his point total to 17 per game.  Things went from bad to worse last year.  The Dwight Howard experiment imploded and Gasol was left standing somewhere out near the perimeter, waiting for the ball and a long-distance jump shot...

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