OVERVIEW: Center/power forward Pau Gasol credited a new and improved weightlifting program with making him stronger this season. He was able to battle bigger, stronger opponents in the paint with more success, mixing a little more brawn to go with the brains. He averaged 18.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 81 regular-season games, including 32 games at center while Andrew Bynum recovered from a torn knee ligament. Gasol then averaged 18.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists during the playoffs, when he helped the Lakers to the title by jousting successfully with Orlando’s Dwight Howard. Gasol joined an impressive list of Lakers centers to win NBA championships: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal.
QUOTEWORTHY: “I think this year I was able to get myself ready mentally and physically. And I was able to deliver very well throughout the playoffs and help my team conquer the championship. So, it’s been a beautiful, amazing year and I’ll never forget it.”
STRENGTH: Passing ability ranks with the best big men in recent history.
WEAKNESS: He still must get stronger around the basket.
CONTRACT STATUS: Signed through 2010-11.
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