Key #3: Can the Los Angeles Lakers sustain their beautiful new offense?
Marc Gasol has singlehandedly created the Lakers’ new identity on offense. Their ball and player movement were amazing to watch. The long-term effects of the Lakers’ newfound passing and cutting prowess can become dynasty-extending.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Montrezl Harrell will no longer have to bum-rush defenders just to get a bucket. That preserves their longevity that much more.
Gasol can simply create offense for them from the top of the key or when he catches it off the pick-and-roll. He has also given several wings (KCP, Kuzma, THT) wide-open looks due to his pinpoint passing and their timely cutting.
What we saw against the Clippers was proof Marc Gasol is the most underrated big man in NBA history. His passing, his defensive acumen, and his shooting is all top tier not just statistically but also in terms of the eye test. He deserves extra credit as well for this beautiful give-and-go to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope!
Look at that pass, man… so inspirational!
Bottom line: Gasol makes his teammates better. Talen Horton-Tucker, new Lakers’ star, got many of his 33 points based on the Lakers’ beautiful ball movement. Gasol did not get the credit for the assist on this possession, but THT would not have been this wide open had Gasol not hit KCP in perfect stride.
The challenge will be to maintain the same level of movement not just when Gasol is on the bench, but against the Suns over these next two games. The Suns are quick defensively. Mikal Bridges, their small forward, is very long and has quick hands. Chris Paul is a noted ball-hawk not just on the ball but also in help position. Deandre Ayton has taken strides in terms of rim protection and corralling ball-handlers on the pick-and-roll.
Ultimately, it all comes down to whether the Lakers trust that the ball will find them. With Gasol in the game, their cuts are as decisive as can be. When he is not in the game, players stand around much more often on offense.
Will the ball continue to move when Gasol is not in the game? We shall see.
Do you think there is another key to tonight’s game? Besides scoring more points than the other team? If you think there are additional keys, please leave a comment!