Pau Gasol is taking more shots per game this season than his career average, and his usage rate is at a six-year high, so it was a little weird to hear him complain about a lack of touches earlier this week.
Gasol, who has started all 21 games for the Lakers, questioned his role and said he felt uncomfortable in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. In his mind, that uncertainty has affected his performance.
“The fact that I’m not getting the ball in the post affects directly my aggressiveness,” Gasol told the Times. “When I’m not getting the ball where I want to, where I’m most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity.”
Gasol’s 14.4 points per game and .417 field-goal percentage are below his career averages, but the number of shots he’s getting is not out of line with what he’s gotten throughout his career. It’s not the quantity but the quality of looks he takes an issue with. The lasting image of Gasol’s tenure in Los Angeles will be of him standing at the free throw line, taking jump shots or passing to teammates out of the high post.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni hears Gasol’s concerns — and doesn’t seem to care much.
“It’s a nice excuse to not play hard,” D’Antoni said in response to a follow-up question about Gasol’s complaints. “That’s a classic, ‘Well, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.’ Well, you don’t have trouble getting up to the pay stub line. They know what to do there to get the check. So, obviously, you know what to do. They will.”
Kobe Bryant playing point guard and an unsympathetic coach? Good luck seeing the ball much anymore, Pau. Get ready to crash the offensive glass for the few touches you will get from now on.