When Pau Gasol fractured his left hand prior on Jan. 19 prior to a game against Denver, the Spurs were left with a decision:
Would Dewayne Dedmon or David Lee replace the six-time All-Star in the starting lineup?
Lee started four of the next five contests and played well, averaging 12.6 points and 9.8 rebounds.
Then coach Gregg Popovich decided to make the switch to Dedmon, and it may be the most important call he has made all season.
Since inserting Dedmon on Jan. 31, the Spurs have had one of the most brutally effective starting units in the league.
With the hyper-athletic 7-footer devouring rebounds, hammering home dunks and swallowing opponents on defense, the Spurs have stumbled upon a new identity that may be enough to give even the Warriors trouble.
Among five-man units that have played at least 60 minutes together since Jan. 31, Popovich’s new starting lineup ranks second in defensive rating (88) and third in net rating (20.6).
Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Tony Parker and LaMarcus Aldridge have shown no problem acclimating to life alongside Dedmon. This quintet is shooting 50 percent from the field while holding opponents to 41.4 percent, in part due to Dedmon’s influence.
Coming off the bench has not seemed to slow Gasol, who put up 17 points and 11 rebounds in his first game back, a 105-97 win over the Clippers. He followed that up with 15 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes against the Lakers. Oh, and he is a sublime 5 of 5 on 3-pointers.
Popovich has not declared Dedmon the starter for the remainder of the season, but if it comes to be, Gasol has said he will accept that decision as long as it is in the team’s best interests.
“I think I’m at a point I can handle it well if that’s for the best of the team,” Gasol said. “What’s important is that you’re out there when the critical minutes are played and you’re making an impact.”
Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.