Los Angeles Lakers: Did ESPN’s all-time NBA ranking get it right?

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: LeBron James
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: LeBron James /
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Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Pau Gasol

ESPN rank: 65

I wouldn’t have been surprised if Pau Gasol didn’t make the list at all.

The 7-footer has certainly had a Hall of Fame career, but that is thanks in part to his international success in Spain’s pro leagues and with Spain’s national team, where he’s won three Olympic medals and a FIBA World Cup gold medal.

Just looking at his NBA body of work, one could easily argue Gasol isn’t a top-74 player.

Gasol is a four-time All-NBA pick, but he never made the All-NBA First Team. At his statistical peak, he averaged 20.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.1 blocks per game, but that was with the Memphis Grizzlies — a team he led to an 0-12 playoff record. It wasn’t until Gasol went to L.A. that he began winning, and that was as the No. 2 guy on the Lakers behind Kobe Bryant.

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Gasol helped L.A. win back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010, but some diehards still won’t forgive his lackluster performance in the 2008 Finals, when Gasol shouldered a lot of blame for the Lakers losing to the hated rival Boston Celtics.

On a positive note, Gasol was one of the first great big men to come to the NBA from Europe. He’s an excellent post scorer and passer, as well as an underrated defender. At a time when European players were still stereotyped as soft, Gasol thrived in the trenches against the likes of Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard.

While his resume has holes, Gasol’s skill and impact helps justify his spot in ESPN’s ranking.