Ever since Mike D’Antoni and his system has taken over, Pau Gasol‘s numbers have dropped dramatically. In fact his points per game, rebounds, and field goal percentage have all suffered a decline this season.
The average fan would point to the system but a basketball player would point to Pau. As a ball player you must understand that coaches don’t hand you success on a silver platter & sometimes you have to go out and make things happen. Don’t get me wrong Gasol is still the most skilled big man and has all the talent in the world to succeed. His problem is his shot selection and the timing of those shots.
When in game situations you usually want your first shot to be an average or easy attempt. This helps get you comfortable and settled in. As you start knocking down the easy buckets you begin to take a few steps back, and knock down the more difficult looks. This idea has few exceptions such as Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and a few others. However, it definitely applies to Pau Gasol.
As we saw last night against the Jazz, Pau began his game near the paint where he is most successful. His first three shot attempts were in his comfort-zone or 5 to 12 feet from the basket. He knocked down all three of them. He did this while grabbing some big boards and dishing out a couple of assists. As you can bet, your confidence level begins to sky rocket when you knock down some easy looks and throw some nice dimes. Once you find this rhythm it is then okay to take a few steps back and start shooting some jumpers. Gasol did just that and made the Jazz pay. With Pau’s shots falling from all over the court the Jazz had a huge problem trying to contain a 7 footer knocking down jump shots. Gasol was so hot at one point, that he hit the Jazz with a pump-fake 20 feet out and waltzed to the bucket for an uncontested left hand layup. At that point Gasol became un-guardable. You can’t let him in the post, you can’t give him jumpers, which in turn frees him to make the passes we are all accustomed to seeing.
It will usually be a long night for both Gasol and the Lakers when his first attempts are 15+ feet away from the basket. Yes, Gasol has the talent to knock those shots down, but he should get a few easy ones before attempting the more difficult ones. There have been countless nights where Gasol’s first shot is a brick from 18 feet out and the night usually doesn’t get any better. This theoretically results in a Lakers loss, a poor stat-line, and a loss of confidence.
Gasol is a huge piece to the Lakers’ success. If Pau is playing poorly it makes it that much harder for the Lakers to dig themselves out of this hole. Pau needs to start on the inside and work his way out as his confidence grows. A few easy ones have never done anything but good.