Originally written on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 12/6/12

Laker Pau Gasol #16 after scoring in the first half during game seven of a Western Conference semi-final playoff basketball game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on Sunday May 17, 2009 in Los Angeles Photo via Newscom

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With the Lakers early struggles, many fans, haters, and analysts have put a lot of the blame on the shoulders of future hall-of-famer Pau Gasol. Many claim that Pau is soft, past his prime, and simply not a very good power forward. First of all, those statements are all completely ridiculous, as Pau has arguably been the best power forward in the league since joining the Lakers (for the sake of this argument, stats will be measured starting from the 2008-2009 season).  All stats were taken from NBA Reference. Player A: 17.3 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 1.9 apg, .5 bpg, 36 years old, 0 rings Player B: 16.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.7 bpg, 24 years old, 0 rings Player C: 18.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.4 bpg, 32 years old, 2 rings Player D: 24.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, .73 bpg, 34 years old, 1 ring Player E: 15.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.6 apg, .93 bpg, 36 years old, 0 rings Player F: 20.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, .88 bpg, 28 years old, 1 ring Looking at these statistics allows fans to determine opinions on their own rather than to say blatant, inaccurate statements like “he’s soft” or “he can’t finish around the rim” that others say without reason. At the same time, no, these numbers can’t explain important basketball traits like defensive ability or movement without the ball. But at the end of the day, numbers are the way players are judged, so until a new system comes out, this is the best we have. Also keep in mind that each one of these players has experienced a rather significant injury in this five-year span, so no player has an advantage over the other. Player A: Tim Duncan Player B: Kevin Love Player C: Pau Gasol Player D: Dirk Nowitzki Player E: Kevin Garnett Player F: Chris Bosh Photo Credit: AP Photo/Don Ryan Among these incredible six power forwards, Pau ranks 3rd in points, 2nd in rebounds, 1st in assists, 2nd in blocks, and 1st in rings, for an average ranking of 1.9 (the highest of anyone on the list). For those who call Pau “soft,” he was second in both rebounds and blocks, two stats which generally determine if a player is soft or not. Just because Pau screams most of the time when he goes to the basket does not make him soft (maybe it’s a Spanish thing). Also keep in mind that I am not using this list to say that Pau is the greatest power forward of all-time. In no way does Pau have a better career than some of the names on this list, but he has been productive in the last 5 years (his time with the Lakers) as any of them. In addition, nobody can say Pau’s stats are inflated because his scoring numbers are still high despite having Kobe and he has had to compete with Andrew Bynum (and now Dwight) for rebounds and blocks. As for Pau’s struggles this year, he is in a new system that requires the power forward to sprint up and down the court. Pau has tendonitis in both knees and is currently 32 years old, which is past the time of athletic prime. He has also spent most of his career in the post, and has one of the best face up games the world has ever seen. Most of Spain’s sets in the 2012 Summer Olympics ran through Pau in the post, and Spain saw more success against the US than any other team. Once Pau becomes more settled in this new role (or gets traded), he will begin to excel and probably have more rounded stats between points, rebounds, and assists. Coach D’Antoni may also want to consider giving Pau the majority of the minutes at the center position when Dwight is not on the court. -Langer

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