Do you hear that? It’s the sound of greatness calling and Pau Gasol is hitting the ‘ignore’ button on his smartphone.
He began the year as an MVP candidate but lately Gasol is MIA. We’ve heard all the excuses. Kobe doesn’t share the rock. Pau needs more touches. The offense should work from the inside out.
Sure, there are times when Gasol is frozen out of the offense as the Lakers inexplicably launch long range shots. But if you’re the second option on the two-time defending champs’ roster then you have a right to demand the ball. Pull Bryant aside and give him a piece of your mind. Grab Phil and tell him to draw up a play on the erase board to get you the rock. Sometimes having an ego can be a good thing when it’s for the betterment of the team.
Then again, here’s an idea: instead of posturing and posing when you have the pill, make a strong move and force the D to commit to you. Too often Gasol gets the ball and just stalls. His hesitancy allows the opposition to adjust thus taking away any option that was there just seconds previous.
This is not Pau’s first rodeo so why is he playing the clown? We thought after last season’s seven game clash with Boston that Pau had found his toughness. Funny but it didn’t look much like it yesterday against those same C’s.
To be sure the entire roster needs to step up to the challenge. But Pau is the one who we need most to get it together. When Gasol is operating with high efficiency, is active on the boards and doesn’t hesitate in the post, he doesn’t need more than 8 to10 shots. This is what makes the Spaniard so unique. These days so many of the NBA’s top players need to monopolize the ball in order to get theirs.
His ability to produce without hogging the rock is among the many reason why Gasol was being talked about among the NBA elite. Right about now, those talks were far too premature.
It’s seems like years ago that Pau was leading the league in double-doubles. Now, the likes of Kevin Love and Blake Griffin have lapped Pau in that category.
Some of his dip in production can be attributed to the big minutes Pau has been logging all year. After taking the summer off from international play, this was supposed to be Gasol’s chance to ease into the season. Instead, injuries and the inability to close inferior competition have conspired to push Pau onto the court for unnecessary PT.
Still, this is about Gasol stepping out of the shadows and into the spotlight that was cast on him after slipping on his second ring. There is no arguing how important Gasol is to the team. His arrival quelled Kobe’s desire to leave town and stabilized a roster that was teetering on oblivion.
Therefore, if Pau is good enough to be the lynchpin to a title contender then he’s also ripe to share equal blame for the way this team has underperformed.
The time has come for Gasol to get it in his head that as he goes this team will follow. He might not be the G.O.A.T. that Mamba is but he’s certainly the most important second option in all of hoops. If Pau continues to be passive, happy to watch Kobe operate, then it will be a death certificate that awaits the championship hopes of the Lakers.