Boy, the criticism sure is mounting on Pau Gasol, isn’t it? To some it sounds like hate. To others it sounds like the “noise” Erik Spoelstra always talks about. To me, it sounds like a perfect time to buy-low.
And that’s exactly what I did in League Freak (12-team, HTH, 8-cat). Check this out. I’m driving to work this morning and my dear friend Paul Allen (radio voice of our Minnesota Vikings) e-mails me an offer of Pau Gasol and Andre Miller for DeAndre Jordan and Tristan Thompson.
Two words: all day!
I hustled into work so I could log on and pull the trigger before P.A. came to his senses. Understand that I have not lost faith in Jordan; quite the contrary, as I still start him in two of my four leagues. But the chance to get Pau, historically a top-20 player across 8 categories, for Jordan and Thompson (who has been a disappointment through one month, especially the lack of shot blocking) was too good to pass up.
As I type this blog on Monday afternoon, Pau is averaging 13.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.3 blocks. The boards, dimes, and swats are at or near his career averages, so he’s a medium improvement in scoring away from reclaiming his lofty fantasy status. All he needs is one more basket per half — or four more points per game — to get that scoring average from the 13s to the 17s.
Keep in mind that once Steve Nash returns from his broken leg, whenever that may be, the L.A. Lakers are going to be painting offensive masterpieces nightly. Run-and-gun head coach Mike D’Antoni had major talent in Phoenix, but he didn’t have four future-Hall-of-Famers in the same starting 5.
Nash will make sure that Pau is not only involved, but involved in ways that will maximize his strengths. Pau complained after Friday’s loss to the Grizzlies that his touches are coming too far from the basket and that all he’s getting these days are jump shots. Well, that’s because second-year point guard Darius Morris isn’t quite ready and Kobe Bryant is serving as the most trigger-happy PG in the league until Nash returns.
For the time being, it’s safe to expect around 15-9-3 from Pau with blocks and solid percentages, which is easily better than Jordan. But when Nash comes back — and Pau is actually smiling while playing the game he loves — you’ll be very happy that you went bargain-shopping.
Antawn Jamison was finally spotted Friday in Memphis (16 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes) and Saturday in Dallas (19 points and 15 rebounds in 30 minutes). Many of those minutes came at the expense of Gasol, who was benched toward the end of the Memphis game because the Lakers needed 3s for their comeback attempt. The next night in Dallas, Pau had 13 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block in 28 minutes, and his minutes were limited because the game was a blowout.
I am not worried about Jamison turning the Lakers’ power forward position into a timeshare. Furthermore, I fully expect Pau to hover around 32 minutes a night, which should be plenty of time to hit the aforementioned 17-9-3.
Lastly, I am not overly concerned with the knee tendinitis that Pau is currently overcoming. He clearly needs to get in better shape, and I’m confident that he will because he’s always been one of the most dedicated and diligent players in the league.
Listen, this isn’t the first time it’s taken an elite big man a month or so to get in shape — and it won’t be the last. So buy low now and reap the fantasy rewards now and later.
Rick Kamla is an anchor on NBA TV. You can follow him on Twitter at @NBATVRick.