Mike D'Antoni's decision to permanently bring Pau Gasol off the bench initially caused quite the stir. There were plenty of questions about whether the Spaniard would embrace the role, and he admitted that he was none too pleased with the move before the Los Angeles Lakers' 95-83 loss to the Chicago Bulls last Monday.
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But as much as Gasol says he dislikes the role, he has played pretty darn well in the last four games coming off the bench. He's averaging 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in the four games, and is shooting a very solid 57.1 percent from the field. That's certainly an improvement over his season mark of 44.9 percent.
Gasol was moved to the bench in order to get him more time at center, where he has flourished throughout his career. When playing alongside Dwight Howard in D'Antoni's system, Gasol has often been relegated to roaming the perimeter, helping lead to those poor shooting percentages.
What's interesting, however, is the fact that Gasol has been so effective recently despite not seeing that much of a change in his shot locations. According to NBA.com, 51.6 percent of his shots this year have come from inside the paint. In these last four games, that number is at 50.0 percent. He's just making more shots now.
For the time being, it appears the move was a good one for the Lakers. And as long as Gasol continues to receive relatively big minutes, one would think that would keep him happy. He played 36 minutes in the big victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday and is averaging 29.5 minutes since being moved permanently to the bench. That's only about four fewer minutes than his season average.
Gasol's resurgence and Kobe Bryant's revelation to become a facilitator has finally brought some positives vibes to Lakerland. But will they keep it up?