Pau Gasol is playing his best basketball since he was winning titles next to Kobe Bryant. Maybe even equal to that level — and that was the best basketball of his career.
After a few years of injuries and coaches that didn’t know how to use him properly in Los Angeles, Gasol has come to Chicago and been revitalized. This was not only a great move for him, for the Bulls they landed a much better free agent fit than if Carmelo Anthony had decided to come to town. Gasol’s all-around game is a much better match in Chicago (and notice Lakers’ fans, he’s not soft, some of you just didn’t appreciate what you had).
Never was that more evident than when Gasol dropped 46 on the Bucks, plus added 18 rebounds, to lead the Bulls to a win Saturday night. He took over on a night Derrick Rose was out.
The last Bull to score more than 45 and have 15 or more rebounds? That guy with the statue in front of the building.
Gasol has found a comfort zone in this offense. one where he provides consistent front court scoring but is a willing passer the nights Jimmy Butler or someone else has it going. He’s always been about balance, it’s why he thrived for Phil Jackson in the triangle. This is that same kind of fit. You can see a bounce in Gasol’s step and his love of the game is back, something that seemed to be sucked out of him the past couple seasons by Mike D’Antoni’s use of him.
Gasol has responded with a season that has him on track to be an All-Star starter (voted in by the fans). Deservedly. And with him playing this way — and if Derrick Rose and the rest of the Bulls can stay healthy — he is on the team to beat in the East.