Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has had to rely more on certain players as the team has dealt with the absences of numerous rotation members. One who has stepped up in a big way is Montrezl Harrell.
The sixth-year forward has seen his minutes increase as the second half of the season has gotten underway and with the Lakers down two starters in Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol. Harrell has taken advantage of this, becoming one of the most consistent performers on the team and Vogel had high praise for the Lakers’ spark plug off the bench in Monday night’s win over the Golden State Warriors.
“He’s got a unique ability to find space in the paint and he’s a great finisher,” Vogel said. “He’s a great catcher of all types of pocket passes and extra passes that our guys are making to him, he catches everything and he finishes everything.”
Just as important for Harrell in the eyes of Vogel is that he has gotten more comfortable with his new Lakers teammates throughout the season. “It’s just one of those things where players have to learn each other,” the Lakers head coach added. “There are relationships that have to be built and grown throughout the course of a season and I think our guys are learning that. They’re growing in that regard.”
Harrell joining the Lakers after spending the last three seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers was one of the biggest surprises of the NBA offseason. There were some rumblings coming out of last season about his locker room attitude, but that has been far from the case in the Purple and Gold as far as Vogel is concerned.
“I think he’s been a great fit for our group […] He’s really well-liked by the guys in our locker room, he cares. He’s got a high-care factor for what we’re working on and he really commits to trying to get it right.”
One of the biggest reasons for the Lakers’ moves this offseason was to improve their depth and be able to stay afloat should the team suffer any injuries such as the one that befell Davis. Harrell was a big part of that and he has shown exactly why the Lakers brought him in.
“He’s been invaluable,” Vogel noted. “He’s been a big part of our success this season, especially with Anthony [Davis] and Marc [Gasol] being out, we’ve leaned more heavily on him than we were earlier in the season.”
“He’s been a consistent performer, he’s a gamer. You can ride him for long stretches of the game without a rest. He’s been a real positive for us this season.”
Davis could miss at least three more weeks
Harrell’s presence continues to be extremely important as the future of Anthony Davis remains unclear. The Lakers will re-evaluate Davis in a couple of weeks and plan to be very cautious with him on his potential return, but when that will happen is still unknown.
The latest reports suggest that Davis could miss three weeks and ‘possibly beyond’ as the Lakers won’t rush anything with him. The most important thing for the Lakers is that Davis is healthy when the playoffs arrive and the franchise will do everything possible to ensure that is the case.
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