At times they looked like two inept, oversized passing vessels. But Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol actually seemed to hit their stride toward the end of the season.
A lot of their ineffectiveness could be attributed to the inconsistencies of the Lakers system this year – well, both of them.
Nevertheless, what good is a a drama-filled year and heaps of stats unless we get to slap an oversimplified grade on it when all is said and done.
Regular season grade: B-
It’s hard to give Gasol such a low grade – should you consider a “‘B-” a low grade – simply because we all know just how productive he can be when healthy and actually placed in the position to succeed.
That said, career lows in points and rebounds, as well as missing 33 games due to injury makes grading Gasol out any higher a tough sell.
While I do firmly believe the decrease in production this season was more so a byproduct of the systems he was subjected to this year. A failure to adapt to a new offense will fall on the player to a certain extent no matter how you slice it.
With the Princeton-style offense under Mike Brown he stuck out like a sore thumb, and he never really got a fair shake with D’Antoni until late season injuries opened the door for an increased role.
When he did get that opportunity, Gasol flourished – averaging 17.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists in an eight-game stretch through April. Ultimately offering us a collective why the hell couldn’t someone figure out how to use him earlier than 70 games into the season.
Regular season grade: B+
Say what you want about Dwight Howard off the court, but he’s still a top-tier talent on it. Although his leadership can – and should – be called into question.
The fact he returned from back surgery roughly four months ahead of the recommended timetable should speak volumes to just how much Howard is actually willing to sacrifice for his team – should that always be evident or not.
Despite a shaky start to the season, Howard’s production only trended upward following the all-star break – averaging 18.4 points, 13.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks through 28 games.
His regular season averages of 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per per contest, ranked 29th, 1st and 5th league-wide, respectively.
You can see a detailed comparison between Howard and Shaq’s first season with the Lakers here.
Metta World Peace
Regular season grade: B
Through an injury-riddled, tumultuous season Metta World Peace was a welcome constant, setting his highest career totals in points, rebounds, steals and blocks since joining the Lakers in 2009-10′.