Nov 15, 2010; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) attempts to score as Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) defends during the third quarter at Amway Center. Orlando defeated Memphis 89-72. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

Who is the better offensive player, Marc Gasol or Dwight Howard?


Who is the better offensive player, Marc Gasol or Dwight Howard?

I was talking with Ian Victorine, a life long Celtics fan who lives in the Northeast, but a basketball genius in general.  That is what makes me take his opinions seriously.  I gave weight to this last one, despite my general disagreement with the statement.

He claims Marc Gasol is a better player offensively than Dwight Howard.

Make no mistake, I dislike Howard as much as the next guy now after the way he jerked the Orlando organization around, but I try not to let my feelings about a guy’s personality affect the way I view his game.  I was not buying into the argument of Gasol being a better offensive player than Howard.

Was he impressive with Spain in the Olympics?  Sure, absolutely.

Was he better than Howard would have been against International competition?  I doubt it.

I cited the fact Howard averages more points, Victorine says Gasol’s usage rate is too low to average that much.  He’s right.  But there’s a reason for that:  The Grizzlies don’t go to him as much because he just isn’t as good as Howard.

I asked Yahoo! Sports Matt Buser for his thoughts on the matter.  He agreed that Gasol had more offensive skills and was ostensibly more talented with the ball in his hands, a better passer, less turnovers, and the whole nine yards.  But he also agreed that Howard’s superior athleticism made him a much tougher player to contain.

And really, I’m just looking at the bottom line.  I asked Buser, “Could you build an offense around Marc Gasol?”

Buser’s response was that “Gasol could fit in the Orlando build and be just fine.  He’s a better passer out of the post.”

Like Victorine, Buser hinted at the fact that Gasol certainly is a better passer, and it’s evidenced by his better assist to turnover ratio.  Consistently, Howard has been at the top of the league in turnovers.  It was something we saw with Shaquille O’Neal early in his career, but he pulled out of it in time.  I’m not sure Howard will.

I said there is also the added element of free throw shooting.  Gasol hits his.  Howard doesn’t.  Plain and simple.

It really all comes down to skill sets, but I also think Howard’s couple of go-to moves make him a more difficult player to guard one on one.  His sweeping running hook through the paint is very difficult to guard, and on the left block he has a nice lefty hook over his shoulder.  Both are great moves.  Gasol has no such recourses if his other shots aren’t falling; he simply passes.

So, I don’t think this is a clear cut argument either way.  In Gasol, you have a superior skill set; in Howard, a superior athlete.  Sometimes, you really are comparing apples to apples, and I think both are great centers, of course.  It’s just hard to say which is truly the better offensive players with different strengths and weaknesses.

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