Why Pau Gasol Will Bounce Back to All-Star Form for LA Lakers in 2013-14

Life as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers hasn't been easy for Pau Gasol the past couple years.

Long before Dwight Howard rained on Hollywood's parade, Gasol was making sacrifices on the offensive end. Positional concessions he wouldn't normally make became habitual. He went from a versatile center to a power forward on a leash.

A snot-nosed Andrew Bynum impacted his ability to roam about the post freely a year or two before Superman arrived. Exchanging one for the other was just Los Angeles' way of burdening Gasol further.

Next to Howard and Bynum, Gasol lacked an offensive identity. No coach the Lakers brought in could figure out how to accentuate the mass of D12 and 'Drew without gutting Gasol's innate inclinations. Not Mike Brown, not Mike D'Antoni. Even Phil Jackson struggled to master the interior logjam following Los Angeles' last title in 2010.

Stand here. No, stand there. Pick-and-roll all day long. I'm sorry, pick-and-what? Put your big-boy pants on. Well, maybe it's better if you stick with a onesie. Yes, you're a starter. No wait, you're a sixth man. Never mind, you're a starter.

The inconsistency was maddening, and it showed last year. Gasol averaged a career low in points (13.7), field-goal attempts (11.8) and percentage (46.6). Injuries contributed to his offensive dissolution as well, limiting him to just 49 games. But being stripped of his individuality hurt more.

With Howard in Houston and Bynum (not) playing in Cleveland, that's no longer an issue. Gasol won't take a backseat to Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre or Chris Kaman. He's the man up front for the first time in more than two years. General manager Mitch Kupchak even believes he could be an All-Star in 2014 if he's healthy, according to ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin.

Almost three years removed from his last All-Star appearance and well past his 33rd birthday, Gasol will f...

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