Pau Gasol Looking More and More Like L.A. Lakers’ Best Postseason Playmaker

It's a good thing that Pau Gasol rediscovered his elite facilitating form at the end of the Los Angeles Lakers' regular season because the team is going to need its best playmaker to shoulder an even heavier load in the playoffs.

When Kobe Bryant's ruptured Achilles forever rearranged L.A.'s offensive scheme, Gasol ably stepped into the role of its primary distributor. He totaled 13 assists in the Lakers' two games following No. 24's injury.

Gasol's ability to step up with Bryant out was critical, but it's also important to note that the Spaniard had already been absorbing a greater share of the playmaking duties before Bryant went down.

Since returning from a torn plantar fascia at the end of March, Gasol has played 13 games. In those contests, the power forward's possessions have ended in assists over 25 percent of the time. For a little context, that rate puts him firmly in point guard territory, alongside guys with similar numbers like Damian Lillard, Brandon Jennings and George Hill.

Broken down another way, the Lakers posted an offensive efficiency rating of 108.1 in the five games Gasol played in March and 109.4 in the eight he played in April. Both of those figures blow away the team's season mark of 105.6.

There's no question that Gasol—especially when he's passing—makes the Lakers a vastly better offensive team.

It shouldn't be surprising that Gasol has proven to be such a capable facilitator; his offensive game has always been predicated on a mixture of passing skill and innate unselfishness. Even amidst an otherwise disappointing campaign, shows that Gasol's season assist rate trumped that of every other elite power forward.

His talents as a passer seem inborn and his creativity leads to a unique focus on finding the best shot available—regardless of who ends up taking it. Some of his dimes could even have qualified as artistic achievements.

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