Poll Question: Whose statistics will drop the most with Pau Gasol's return?
Before the Clippers upset the Lakers last week, I had asked readers of the Lakers blog who will most need to fill the void left by Pau Gasol during his absence.
At the time, it wasn't known exactly how many games Gasol would miss, other than that the team expected his left hamstring injury wouldn't be as devastating as the right hammy that sidelined him for the first 11 games. So I found it suitable to anticipate how the Lakers would need to respond if Gasol would be sidelined for a significant period of time.
After missing the last six games, Gasol will be making his return tonight against the Clippers. Considering the Lakers' 19-3 record with him and 11-6 without him, there's no question that his inside game and understanding of the triangle offense positively affect the Lakers. But just like it was suitable to ask who most needed to fill Gasol's void (64% of you voted for Andrew Bynum), it's fair to say that his clip of 16.8 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists will yield to a statistical drop-off among one or more his teammates.
So whose game will be impacted the most? Will Kobe Bryant no longer feel compelled to shoot as much, despite his month-long avulsion fracture in his right finger? Will Bynum revert to his usual habits and struggle to coexist with Gasol on the floor? Will Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher gladly take a back seat in scoring? Will Ron Artest now devote his energy strictly to defense? Or is this question pointless, knowing that Gasol's return will likely lead to more success for the Lakers?
-- Mark Medina
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, center is hugged by teammate forward Pau Gasol, as the rest of the team mobs Bryant after shooting the game-winning shot against the Sacramento Kings in an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. The Lakers won 109-108. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)