Just like last year, Lakers forward Pau Gasol will be joining teammate Kobe Bryant on the Western Conference All-Star team.
The Spaniard was among seven players voted in by coaches around the league out West, alongside Dirk Nowitzki, Zach Randolph, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Brandon Roy and Deron Williams.
When Gasol missed a combined 17 games due to respective right and left hamstring strains this season, the Lakers won 11 times (nine of those games were at home) and lost six (64.7 percent), but with him on the floor, they’ve won 24 and lost just five (82.8 percent).
To reiterate, the Lakers have won 82.8 percent of games in which Gasol has played, and the team has not once lost three straight games since acquiring Gasol in February of 2008. His crucial role in the 2009 NBA playoffs and Finals didn’t hurt either.
Bryant, who led all Western Conference players in votes and will make his 12th All-Star appearance, has been constantly effusive about Gasol’s play, even saying in December that Pau was to him “absolutely” the best all-around post player in the league.
While sacrificing some of his scoring (17.6 this season compared to 18.9 last season on one fewer field goal attempt) to account for Andrew Bynum’s presence, Gasol has picked up his glass work (9.6 in 2008-09 to 11.0 this season), to rank seventh in the NBA. He’s also leading the Lakers with 1.7 blocks per game (12th in the league) and handing out 3.3 assists per night for good measure.
But what makes Gasol even more valuable is that he rarely, if ever, takes away from the team’s effort thanks to his elite efficiency on offense (54 percent field goals, 83 percent free throws), limited turnovers (1.9 per game) and ability to guard both forwards and centers without fouling (2.1 personal fouls per game).