The three big men who helped the Lakers win three championships in five seasons are on the cover of The Sport God Bible.
But as the Lakers return to the court for the first time since Kobe Bryant’s retirement, it’s hard not to see the three superstars in the same light.
Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Nick Young all played their best basketball for the Lakers in the past two years, while the likes of Pau Gasolsub and Nick McAdoo, who played their first full season with the Lakers after being released from the Memphis Grizzlies, are on their way to becoming superstars.
The three bigs all took a backseat to the rest of the Lakers’ roster in the early going, but they’ve all since been key contributors to the team’s success, particularly Gasol.
The Lakers have won six of the past eight NBA titles and six of their last seven in Bryant’s absence, while Gasol has averaged 22.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 54.2 percent from the field over the past three seasons.
In 2017-18, Gasol averaged 16.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists, while shooting 43.9 percent from behind the arc.
Gasol played well enough for him to be named the league’s Most Improved Player in the preseason.
After an injury-plagued season, he returned to the All-Star game for the third straight season.
Gasols numbers were also good enough for the second-highest scoring average on the Lakers (11.9 ppg), and he shot over 50 percent from three-point range in 2018-19.
The other big factor that helped propel the Lakers to the championship was the development of Gasol as a point guard.
Gaso had been an undersized, perimeter-oriented big man for years before his breakout season with Memphis.
The team needed help along the perimeter, and the Lakers had a talented young point guard in Jordan Clarkson.
The 6-foot-9 Gasol scored nearly 25 points per game in his first two seasons in the league, and he showed glimpses of the potential he had at the college level.
However, Gasols playing time and health issues hampered his development in 2018, leading to a move to the bench, where he spent three seasons before returning to the Grizzlies.
Gasl was finally able to make a full recovery and be a dominant point guard for the Grizzlies this season, and his return to playing time should only help the team in the long run.
Gasles production dropped off during the Kobe Bryant era, but his impact on the team was never in doubt.
The most important player for the team during that era was Pau Gasole.
Gasole was the face of the franchise, and that’s a big reason why he was able to stay in Los Angeles during the Bryant era.
He was a three-time All-NBA first-team selection (2014, 2015 and 2016), an All-Defensive first- team selection (2010, 2011 and 2012) and an All, Sixth Man and Defensive Player of the Year award winner (2010).
He finished his career as one of only four players in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the regular season and postseason.
Gasoles career average in the playoffs was 20.6 points, 9.7 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game.
The Lakers made it clear from the start that Gasol was the star of the show during his playing days, and it was not surprising when the Lakers signed him to a four-year, $70 million extension in 2017.
Gasolina had averaged 18.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3 assists in his seven seasons in Los Angles, but he never really had the type of success that many thought he would.
His best season came in 2019-20, when he averaged 19.3 and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 48.4 percent from deep.
His production plummeted when Bryant retired, and Gasol’s role in the offense plummeted.
He started the season with just two games of playing time, and played in only 10 games in the first two weeks of the season before missing the final two games.
In his first four games of the 2019-2020 season, Gasl had averaged 16 points and 5 assists per contest.
Gasol’s next two seasons were much different than the first three, as he was unable to produce the same type of production as he did before the Kobe era.
In fact, Gasolina struggled mightily throughout the 2019 playoffs, shooting just 39.7 percent from beyond the arc and averaging a career-low 10.5 assists per 36 minutes.
Gaslo had struggled with injuries throughout his career, and had never averaged double-digit points and assists in consecutive seasons.
He struggled mightibly throughout the 2020-21 season, scoring a career low 10.7 per game and shooting 40.9 from deep in a lockout-