Why Pau Gasol Is Steve Nash’s Ideal Pick-and-Roll Partner for LA Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers have spent the bulk of the season running pick-and-rolls with Dwight Howard. But in truth, Pau Gasol is the perfect pick-and-roll partner for Steve Nash.

Howard is a bruising and punishing player on the interior given his strength and athleticism. When he catches the ball near the rim, opposing defenses are faced with two choices: Give up the basket or foul him before he gathers to finish.

According to Synergy Sports, the Laker center has converted 76 of 96 field goals (79.2 percent) as the roll man in pick-and-roll situations entering the April 2 contest against the Dallas Mavericks.

These facts alone make Howard a tremendous pick-and-roll player. When engaged, he sets tough screens and cuts hard to the basket.

As previously mentioned, his interior catches are devastating for opposing defenses. In addition, when he rolls hard out of the screen-and-roll action, defenders must temporarily abandon their primary assignments or otherwise concede a Howard dunk.

Hence, Howard sucks in defenders and opens up the perimeter for his shooters even when the ball doesn’t come his way. A steady dose of Howard in these situations obviously benefits the Lakers.

Whether it’s with Kobe Bryant or Nash, Howard is a terrorizing force in the pick-and-roll.

And yet, the Lake Show’s offense enters an entirely different dimension when the action is run with Gasol.

On the surface, it seems counterproductive to favor Gasol at the expense of Howard in these scenarios. The Spaniard converts 50 percent of his shots as the roller in the pick-and-roll, and the majority of his shots this season have come as a product of this specific set, per Synergy Sports.

The two-time champion is unquestionably skilled, but he is nowhere near the physical presence that Howard is on the inside. However, Gasol offers one advantage that Howard jus...

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