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The one thing that separates Marc Gasol from the three best centers in the league (Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Al Jefferson) is scoring ability. Like these three, Gasol is a terrific defender and rebounder. He's as good a passer as any center.
However, he isn't quite as good a scorer as these centers are. Each of the top three centers averaged more than 18.5 points per game last season, leading the pack in that category. Among centers who played at least 65 games, Gasol was eighth in scoring average at 14.6 points per game.
Howard and Bynum were both in the top five in field-goal percentage while shooting 57.3 percent and 55.8 percent from the field, respectively.
Jefferson shot 49.2 percent from the field, but he isn't as tied to shooting from the post as Bynum and Howard are.
Gasol, who shot 48.2 percent from the field, doesn't shoot jumpers as much as Jefferson, but the man Tony Allen calls "Big Spain" is generally a versatile offensive player who can bang it in the post and hit mid-range and outside two-pointers.
Thus, Gasol could stand to hit shots at a rate three or four percent higher. He could hit perimeter shots at a slightly higher clip and become more consistent on the inside. Also, he can up his shooting by shooting better on the road and hitting shots towards the end of the season.
Gasol was the Grizzlies' No. 3 scorer in 2010-11 and was their No. 2 scorer in 2011-12. He and Zach Randolph are both at crossroads in their career. Randolph is heading into the backside of his career. Gasol is about to head into his prime.
Randolph may still be at the point in his career when he can command shot opportunities and drop 20 points per game. Gasol can still get up to at least 16 points per game if he simply shoots better.
After the 2012-13 season, Gasol should make strides towards being the leading post scorer. Randolph, who isn't that athletic, won't be able to gain positioning the way he has over the course of his career. Gasol, who is a legitimate athlete, will be able to offer Mike Conley better looks than Randolph will down low.
Thus, Gasol should earn more shot opportunities down the road.
As that happens, the burden is on Gasol to connect on shots and raise his scoring profile.