Player Capsule: Pau Gasol

Contract Status: Under contract

Gasol’s mid-season trade to Los Angeles not only re-energized Kobe and the and the entire Lakers franchise, it also resulted in arguably the best overall play of the Spaniard’s career. While Pau’s numbers in L.A.—19 points and eight rebounds per game—were virtually the same as his stat line in Memphis, Gasol stepped up his game down the stretch for the Lakers, helping to lead them to the number one seed in the Conference. Obviously feeding off of the diverse offensive games of Bryant and Odom, Pau boosted his shooting percentage to over 58% as a Laker, up from an already respectable 53% as a Grizzly.

After fitting in almost seamlessly into the Lakers’ triangle offense, Gasol will once again be tasked with adjusting his game, this time to fit alongside that of center Andrew Bynum. However, the shift in position from the five spot to a much more natural power forward should help Pau’s game grow even more since he won’t be asked to guard the likes of Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett anymore. Moreover, look for Gasol to improve his big-game play after his first real extended run in the playoffs.