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NBA 2K12 rankings are wrong on Pau Gasol

September 29, 2011 |  3:44 pm

Pau Gasol

The images can't escape my mind.

During the regular season, Lakers forward Pau Gasol routinely displayed finesse in his footwork, a sharp mid-range jumper and smart decision-making against a defenseless Amare Stoudemire. In turn, Lakers center Andrew Bynum confronted Stoudemire anytime he entered the lane. Yet, NBA2K12 ranked Stoudemire as the league's top power forward (88) over Gasol (86).

During the Lakers' Western Conference semifinals loss to the Dallas Mavericks in a four-game sweep, Gasol routinely showed passiveness, poor decision-making and frustration against an intimidating front line. In turn, Gasol guarded Dirk Nowitzki and failed to play physical defense against him, confront his shot or prevent in any way his ridiculously difficult fade-away jumpers from dropping into the basket. Yet, NBA2K12 ranked Gasol above Nowitzki (85). 

Which games were the programmers watching?

"Amare had a more dominant 2010-2011 season during his first year with the Knicks in comparison to Pau Gasol," an NBA2K12 official said in an email. "Dirk's overall rating was lower than others' because he still remains the weakest defender of the three -- which was something we also weighed in our formulas." 

But had they properly weighed the game's other variables -- last season's statistics, the player's value on the team and public expectations -- the game would have reached a different conclusion.

Sure, Nowitzki hardly plays much defense. Still, Synergy shows opponents shot 37.7% against Nowitzki in the post and that all of his teammates switched well on zone defense any time a lapse happened. Meanwhile, Nowitzki lifted the Mavericks to the NBA title by hitting every shot imaginable en route to a 23.0 points-per-game average on a career-high 51.7 % shooting clip.

Sure, Stoudemire's 25.3 points ranks higher than Gasol's 18.8 points per game. But Gasol rebounds more (10.2-8.2). His offensive role is slightly smaller than Stoudemire's. And any lapses Gasol had on defensive last season pointed more to his fatigue, while Stoudemire's mostly pointed to effort. 

Meanwhile, most of Gasol's struggles last season proved more circumstantial. Fatigue hit up once after replacing Andrew Bynum for the first 24 games of the season. A lack of confidence also derailed Gasol once the postseason hit. But that didn't offset his usual efficiency in hitting the mid-range jumper, complementing Kobe Bryant and running the offense properly. It might not have proved good enough against Nowitzki, but it certainly proved good enough against Stoudemire. 

It looks like NBA 2K12 needs to hit the reset button on that one. 


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-- Mark Medina

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Photo credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / May 8, 2011