Why Pau Gasol Will Return to All-Star Form If Dwight Howard Leaves LA Lakers

Basketball fans and the media alike often forget that Pau Gasol is a center masquerading as a power forward. Consequently, if Dwight Howard bolts from the Los Angeles Lakers, Gasol will reclaim the starting center position and flourish.

Since joining the Lakers in 2007-08, Gasol has been a dominant performer when playing at his natural position of center. It allows him to go down in the low post and operate with optimal spacing.

When faced with single coverage on the low block, Gasol has consistently proven throughout his career that he can generate high-percentage shots and convert them. He has excellent footwork and is ambidextrous in the post.

The Spaniard hits his hook shots with either hand and is quite comfortable taking the ball to the basket against tough interior defenders. His basketball IQ coupled with his impressive passing skills further exacerbates matters for opponents given that it makes double-teaming him a risky proposition.

It’s not a coincidence that Gasol has made three appearances on the All-NBA team while playing center for the Lakers.

With Phil Jackson coaching the Purple and Gold, Gasol was frequently featured in the post in the triangle offense. The scheme afforded the talented big man with room to operate down on the block  given the terrific spacing on the floor.

The statistics reflect this as well. Since joining the Lakers, Gasol has scored more points per 36 minutes when playing center in every season save for the 2010-11 campaign, per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.

When the two-time world champion plays power forward, he is typically flanked by a center that occupies the low post. This forces Gasol to drift out further away from the basket.

It’s worth pointing out that it’s not simply a matter of playing Gasol at power forward that hurts his production. Roster moves as well as coaching philo...

About the Author