Fantasy Basketball: What to Expect from Pau Gasol

Fantasy Basketball: What to Expect from Pau Gasol

By: Ron Leyba (@ronniedare)

Pau GasolPau Gasol was a real headache for fantasy owners during the 2012-2013 season. Various injuries and an inability to fit within Mike D’Antoni’s system contributed to a drastic drop in his production.  As a result, the Lakers’ center had the worst statistical season of his 12-year NBA career and reached “bust” status from a fantasy perspective.

However, after all the changes the Los Angeles Lakers have made this off-season and with Dwight Howard and his drama out of the picture, Gasol should be able to return to his previous success.

With Howard gone, Gasol will now likely see many more minutes at center as opposed to last season when he was forced to play power forward.  He appeared to be out of his comfort zone playing the 4 and it showed in his inconsistent production.  This was likely one of the main reasons for his sub-standard output.

Gasol finished the season with a career low 13.7 points per game along with 8.6 rebounds which marked a significant decrease from the previous three seasons.  His minutes also dropped significantly down to 33.8 per game, a nine-year low for him.

But it is projected that he will come back stronger this season.  I would argue that the primary reason for his return to prominence is that Dwight Howard is no longer there. Besides their incompatibilities, Gasol will now be forced to take more responsibilities offensively.  In addition, he should also selfishly benefit from Kobe Bryant’s absence and a reduction of Steve Nash’s minutes.  Let’s face it, without Bryant or Nash on the floor the Lakers will have no other choice to rely on Gasol for offense.  That is exactly what fantasy basketball GM’s would want for him.

But realistically, it is cannot be expected that Gasol will have find the fountain of youth at age 33.  Granted, he has never relied much on his athleticism or his fresh legs. Rather, he used his size, his skill and his great moves close to the basket in order to be productive. In addition, he has a decent mid-range jumper which is one more strength of his game. None of these attributes should be greatly affected by age.

The main focus for the 7-footer right now is his health. Last season, he missed 33 games which is simply too much. The Lakers don’t have the luxury to keep their big man sidelined this season.  Gasol recently stated that he is fine but the Lakers would be well-suited to take things slow.  But he is projected to be ready for action to start at the season.

Pau Gasol is a risky choice for the fantasy leagues because of his recent drop in production and health issues.  However, he still is a quality center and will definitely have the chance to get back to the list of top-10 big men in the league in 2013-2014. So with risk comes a high reward.

 

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