Gasol Primed For Big Year?

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs - Game Two

It’s no secret that Pau Gasol dealt with a myriad of injuries – plantar fasciitis, a concussion, a tear of his plantar fascia and tendonosis in both knees – last season, while also trying to adjust his game in playing further from the basket.

But over the last 40 games, as most of the team rounded into better health, Gasol, too, showed improvement down the final stretch of 2012-13.

Of importance, the Lakers were nearly five points better with Gasol on the floor in that span.

“If he’s healthy (this year), he’s going to be an All Star player,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said.

His April stats showed a vast improvement – 17.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.3 blocks on 51.3 percent field goals – in large part because of where he was situated on the floor on offense.

As he recovers from a FAST Technique procedure done in the offseason, Gasol is slowly working his way back for the upcoming year.

“I’m not sure how much he’s been on the basketball court the last two or three weeks,” Kupchak said, “but he certainly feels ready to go. And like with all veterans, we’ll bring him along slowly.”

With Dwight Howard gone, and not occupying the post, and Kobe Bryant still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, Gasol will almost certainly be one of the main options in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, whether that be on the low block or at the high post.

“He’ll be the focal point of our play in the paint,” Kupchak said. “He’ll be able to post up and he’ll be on the move whether it’s a pick and roll or pick and (pop). He’ll be able to hit (the outside shot). He won’t really have to share that much space. Much of what we did last year was an adjustment and deferring and trying to figure out how Dwight Howard would fit in, and try to get the best out of him. Pau Gasol made a lot of sacrifices last year. I think he’s looking forward to playing this year.”

Can Gasol replicate his production level (‘08-‘09: 18.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists; ’09-’10: 18.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists) when he was a featured player during their back-to-back title runs from 2009-10?

The pieces are in place – barring any injuries – for the 7-foot Spaniard to do so.