Gasol Adjusting to Change
November 29, 2012 2:58 pm PST
Mike Trudell | @LakersReporter
As the seasons pass in the NBA, the league's players seem to get smaller and more agile in the frontcourt.
But the Lakers have not ascribed to the movement that has seen wings like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony start at power forward, instead putting 7-footer Pau Gasol in the PF slot next to centers Dwight Howard this season and Andrew Bynum last.
Gasol's best and most natural position remains in the pivot, where he can utilize his terrific hands, post moves over either shoulder, face-up game and passing ability at his leisure. The Spaniard spent the majority of his first several years in Los Angeles at center, with Andrew Bynum missing the 2007-08 season with injuries and playing fewer minutes than Gasol particularly in crunch time.
So unique for a true 7-footer — new coach Mike D'Antoni couldn't think of a comparison – Gasol's multiple skills allow him to play the high post as well, doing things that many power forwards do while remaining an extra rim protector on defense.
In the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, with a new coach and a new system, Gasol played center less than ever before. That Bynum stayed healthy and played 35.2 minutes per game – a full eight more than the previous season – kept Gasol on the perimeter far more than in the past. Ditto for this season, with Howard coming to town and D'Antoni's system encouraging floor spacing from the power forward slot.