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NBA Los Angeles Lakers

Did Los Angeles Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni Finally Learn How to Use Pau Gasol?

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

One reason why Mike D’Anoni convinced me that he was perhaps the worst coach in the NBA was that he refused to use Pau Gasol—one of the best post-up players in the league—as a centerpiece of the Los Angeles Lakers‘ offense when D’Antoni took on the role of head coach last season. Instead D’Antoni reduced Gasol’s role to shooting three-pointers, setting screens and running pick-and-rolls. D’Antoni even benched Gasol for a short period, convinced that Gasol was a “role player,” which brought into question the status of D’Antoni’s mental health.

But D’Antoni may have finally learned that Gasol is good. Really good. He’s so good that D’Antoni’s system should actually center on him, with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash also commanding the offense.

This is good news for Lakers fans, because should D’Antoni try once again and force Gasol to conform to his frenetically-paced offensive system, the Lakers would probably have another disastrous season.

But D’Antoni claims he now recognizes Gasol’s talents and plans on exploiting them.

“I think he’s going to be great,” D’Antoni said of Gasol, according to ESPN Los Angeles. “Keep your fingers crossed because hopefully he’ll have his best year ever. He’s still young enough, he’s only 33.”

Can we trust D’Antoni? His promises proved bogus last year when during his introductory news conference he said the Lakers would score 110-115 points per game.

Hopefully D’Antoni’s truly learned that his system needs to conform to Gasol, Bryant, Nash and the skills of the rest of the players — not the other way around.

Lucas Rubio is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @PlayerzLeague.