Why Pau Gasol Is Most Critical Piece to LA Lakers’ Puzzle in 2013-14

The successes and failures of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2013-14 will largely revolve around Pau Gasol, given his importance to the team.

The two-time champion is a stud low-post player, and the Lakers will need his offense going forward.  Gasol is a rare front-line talent that effectively scores with his back to the basket and also from mid-range.

Mike D’Antoni will use him at center, where he will take advantage of opposing big men attempting to defend him. Indeed, the Spaniard will be utilized both on the block and in the high post.

His mid-range jumper is deadly enough to pull away defenders from the paint, and that should open up the floor for his teammates, which also gives Gasol angles to deliver pinpoint passes.

As a member of the Lakers, the two-time Olympic silver medalist has demonstrated he is an elite-passing big man, which will be important in D’Antoni’s spread pick-and-roll offense that relies on shooting and passing.

Keep in mind, Kobe Bryant’s recovery from his Achilles tear comes with uncertainty as it pertains to his return date. Thus, Los Angeles will need scoring and playmaking from Steve Nash and a secondary source.

Gasol fits the bill on this front. It’s worth mentioning that the four-time All-Star spent the entirety of 2012-13 playing out of position, and it affected his productivity. He still managed to incorporate himself into the offense and helped out his teammates with 4.1 assists per game.

Gasol accomplished this despite being relegated to the perimeter, where he was mostly ineffective. In his second season with D’Antoni, the Spaniard returns to his natural position with Dwight Howard no longer a member of the Purple and Gold.

Consequently, Gasol will more than likely regain his All-Star form because he will once again enjoy a role in which he is familiar with th...

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