Ball Don't Lie - NBA

We know that LeBron James(notes), when firing on all cylinders, is the best player in basketball.

We know that Kobe Bryant(notes) is the cruelest, the most devastating when he has to be, that Chris Paul(notes) can affect the game differently than any small man, and that Dwight Howard(notes) can absolutely dominate a game even while going full quarters at a time without a field goal.

But has Pau Gasol(notes) been the best player in the NBA during its first month? I'm OK with saying yes to that.

Sure, a nice game (to say the absolute least) against the defenseless Golden State Warriors is always good to pump your stats up, but the most shocking part about Pau's 28-point, four-block, 12-rebound night (with five assists; and he didn't miss a free throw or field goal in 18 combined tries) is that it didn't really pump his stats up too much. They were already that good.

[Photo: Gasol dunks over a kid in New Delhi, India]

And to the naked eye, without any actual documentation to marvel at, the man has been beastly. Never seems to drop the ball below his shoulders, always finishes well, hits cutters, moves his feet defensively, and every time he misses you feel as if something has gone terribly wrong.

The documentation, though? Let's marvel.

About 23 points and 12 rebounds a game. Four assists, and over two combined blocks/steals. Fifty-six percent shooting, and just 1.6 turnovers a contest. The Lakers are eight points worse (per 100 possessions) with him off the floor defensively, and over 11 points better (per 100) with him on the court offensively. Chris Paul and Al Horford(notes) have slightly better Player Efficiency Ratings, but Pau's work is done over 38 minutes a contest, as opposed to 34.4 (Paul) and 31.5 (Horford) a game. So he's nearly as good, for longer.

[Related: Gasol sings for charity, throws out first pitch]

This production likely won't fade, either, even when Andrew Bynum(notes) comes back from surgery, and Bryant starts to take closer games over. The guy is 30, in his ostensible prime, so this is no fluke. This is just a guy playing the best all-around ball of anyone else out there right now, and when you get right down to it (even in a world gone mad with obsessing over scoring leaders in the time since Michael Jordan proved that a points-per-game leader can also lead a team to a title), that's the mark of the best player in the game. Someone who does everything, just about better than anyone else.

So, armed with that knowledge, what do we do?

Appreciate it, I guess.

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