Sunday, January 6, 2013

Loyal fans have jumped off the Gasol Love Train

It's no secret D'Antoni has been experimenting with his starting lineup in hopes of finding an effective rotation before the Buss family finds an effective coach. Due to injuries, he's been having to mix it up a bit. Some moves came expectantly and others threw up question marks.

Fans have thrown out the idea of starting Hill or Jamison over Gasol. In hindsight, that isn't such a bad idea. Hill has proven to be a productive scrapper making his points off of missed shots. His jumper is almost as good as Gasol's and with his limited minutes he's become a fan-favorite because of his hustle. Defensively Hill is the better player.

Jamison has disappeared since Gasol's return from injuries but when he was a useful component his shooting consistency was well received by fans. In one game against a tough Nuggets team, he scored 33. Antawn is averaging 16-points when he gets 25+ minutes (8 games).    

To D'Antoni's defense, his star-ting big men have been inconsistent so far this season. Yes, Howard is averaging an impressive 17-pts/12-rebs but his game in and game out numbers are unpredictable. Fans wish his double-digit contributions were as long-lived as his on-court smile.

To say that Pau Gasol is struggling is an understatement. Although the season is still technically young (32 games in), Gasol is well under his 18-point average. He's currently averaging 12-points with 9-rebounds.

The two big men have struggled to work well together. While Howard demands for inside feeds, Gasol can be found wandering around the perimeter. This explains his 21 3PA already. Last season, Pau had a career high 27 attempts behind the 3-point line. With a 7-foot frame, fans expect Gasol to use his towering height more dominantly. Lakers have plenty of jump shooters, they don't need a big man doing that job.

Some say D'Antoni is to blame for Gasol's struggles but the finger needs to be pointed at Pau. He hesitates to step inside the paint offensively/defensively and only screams (literally) when he dares to venture in. The memo is out, defenses think nothing of Gasol's 7-inch vertical and telegraphic lay-ups. 

His teammates are supportive despite his lost role with the team. Just the other night after losing to the Clippers where Gasol went 1-6 only scoring 2, Nash said this about his teammate:
"I'm just here to support (Gasol), he's a tremendous talent, he's had a great career, and I'm just here to support him and (help him) find his best. We've all been there. It's tough when things aren't going for you, and you're struggling a little bit.
You've just got to support him. Six months ago, he was unbelievable at the Olympics. It's still in there somewhere, and part of it is probably a bit of fatigue, a bit of injuries, and a bit of just trying to find his niche playing along side Dwight and myself and new guys."
Anytime Gasol lacks toughness inside his unwanted yet opportunistic nickname "Gasoft" is an audible favorite. To give some perspective, Pau missed 8 games earlier this season due to knee tendinitis which retired WNBA L.A. Sparks legend Lisa Leslie later addressed on the air saying she often played through the same injury throughout her 12-year career.

Gasol may have his teammates support, but his loyal fans who've stuck by his side throughout the years have jumped off the Gasol Love Train. The frail Spaniard is on the chopping block and March is just around the corner. It will be interesting to see what Gasol has to offer before the looming trade deadline.

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