But if Pau Gasol is no longer the forgotten superstar on the offensive end of the floor, and he actually gets the additional touches that he both wants and deserves, that would be absolutely devastating for anyone standing in L.A.'s path to a third straight championship.
Now of course, it's early. We're two games into the season. But so far? That appears to be exactly what's happening.
Gasol was dominant in the Lakers 114-106 road win over the Suns on Friday, putting up a near-triple-double line of 21 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists. He did it with 17 shot attempts, only two fewer than Kobe Bryant, who finished with 19 but was aggressive from the start with nine in the first quarter.
Gasol finishing a close second to Bryant in field goal attempts isn't exactly earth-shattering news. But through the Lakers first two games, Gasol is averaging 20 to Bryant's 19.5, and leads the team in that category -- by one -- at 40-39.
I know -- really small sample size, to be sure. But listening to Bryant speak after the win in Phoenix, you get the feeling it's by design, and something that could very well continue as the season rolls on.
"I think this year it's a little different because the second unit, which you see him playing with a lot, [Steve Blake] and [Matt Barnes] and those guys are really pass-first guys," Bryant said. "So he'll get more touches with that second unit and with that group, as opposed to last year when they'd forget about him. But it's because those guys liked scoring the ball; it's no fault of their own, they're just scorers.
"But with this group, these guys really stay in the offense and they really focus on getting him the ball."
A season ago, it wasn't even close: Gasol saw the ball a lot less, and the shot-attempt gap was much, much wider in Bryant's favor.
Gasol averaged just 13 shots a game to Bryant's 21.5, and totaled 725 fewer field goal attempts than Bryant on the season. Granted, that was with Andrew Bynum in the lineup getting up 10 shots per game of his own. But with the versatility that Gasol brings to the table -- he's not only a terrific scorer, but he's also truly evolved into a tremendous passer -- it would be foolish not to continue this early-season trend, and find ways to get the ball into Gasol's hands for as many possessions as possible.
"I think a lot of good things happened when the ball went in the post," Gasol said after the win on Friday. "Whether it was me scoring or me finding open guys and getting [them] open shots, it was very productive."
That's not exactly coming out and asking for the ball, but it is stating the obvious: getting Gasol more touches is only going to help make things easier for everyone offensively.
Gasol is developing into one of the top big men in the game -- that is, if he isn't already there. While still humble when questions about his status as one of the league's elite are raised, Gasol did admit that being considered the best in the game is something that he's motivated by on a daily basis.
"Always," Gasol said. "I've always had that in my mind, since I started to be successful in the NBA. And I try to be one of the top [players], and stay at that level -- which is the hardest part."
Bryant, meanwhile, seems to be growing increasingly comfortable deferring to Gasol -- both on the court, and in terms of discussing his team's game off of it.
There is perhaps no bigger compliment Bryant can give than to include another player's name with his own in the same sentence, and to talk about the two as being on the same level. But he did so with Gasol, particularly when speaking about the Lakers' go-to, game-changing options.
"We're very fortunate here that we have a couple of guys who can just stop momentum -- myself and Pau," Bryant said. "Whenever they got close, we just went to one of us, and we were able to stop momentum. I think that's very important to have."
"Pau does for us what he does for us," Bryant said. "We can go to him. Anytime we need a bucket, we go to him. He's always there."