Player Focus – Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol wasn’t always known as a great player in the NBA despite winning Rookie of the Year honors during his first season. This is because he initially played for the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies, a small market team that had trouble making the playoffs every year. When they hired Hubie Brown as coach, the culture of the team changed and they began fighting for post season positioning. This is when Pau somewhat became known, prior to his stint with the L.A. Lakers. Let’s take a look at his game and see why he was so important during LA’s championship runs.
Pau has been causing havoc in the post for years. He is a very tough guy to defend because of his length, footwork, and post moves. While he is not as bruising compared to other big men in the league, he is very intelligent which enables him to outsmart stronger defenders and putting the ball in the basket. He has and endless array of post moves and because he is quick on his feet and his reaction times are great, he can leave defenders in the dust or fake them while going the other direction instead.
Not only is Pau a scoring threat on the offensive side, but he can beat you in a lot of ways too. He is a great passer for a big man, which is why the Lakers where so successful running the triangle offense. He knows when to make the pass, and to whom. He can pass out of the post when double teamed, and within the flow of the offense that results n easy baskets. His off the ball movement is also top-notch as he knows where exactly he should be in order to maintain the flow of the offense.
One of the qualities that best describe Gasol is his unselfishness. He is willing to do anything in order to let his team win. Despite his overwhelming talents, he often defers to team mates for the sake of preserving team chemistry. It has often been documented that his Laker team mate, Kobe Bryant always wants to be the leader of their team and as talented as Gasol is, he was willing to sacrifice stats in order for the Lakers to not have internal issues and ultimately win championships.
Even though he often lets team mates with large egos act as the team leader, Gasol still shows leadership qualities. His maturity rubs off on young team mates who more often than not listens to him in the basketball court. Especially during his time with the Grizzlies, his brand of leadership is not usually the in your face, gung-ho type, but the calm and cool leader who does not buckle under pressure and will help you when you are feeling down.
Pau Gasol is a surefire Hall of Famer anyway you cut it. He has won in the NBA and the Olympics for Spain. He might not have been an A-List superstar in the NBA, but he has proven that he has what it takes to compete in basketball at the highest level and even excel. His contributions to the Lakers’ championship years will be well remembered when looking back at his legacy. His leadership and unselfishness are seen as vital contributions to very successful years.