The signings the Los Angeles Lakers made this offseason were not ones that would move the needle in terms of big names or star power, but there were some intriguing players who could potentially thrive given the opportunity. Chief among those was forward Juan Toscano-Anderson, a defensive-minded player who spent the last three seasons with the Golden State Warriors.
With the Lakers badly in need of two-way wings who can guard those top wings the league has to offer, Toscano-Anderson was a very interesting addition with the skillset that he provides. Unfortunately, he has dealt with injuries all season long that have kept him in and out of the lineup.
But Toscano-Anderson made his return in the Lakers’ contest against the Miami Heat. He didn’t score, but he had seven rebounds and three assists in just 13 minutes, providing a positive boost for his team in a 14-point loss. Afterward, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham praised Toscano-Anderson for the impact he had and what he brings to the Lakers:
“Absolutely. He didn’t score, but he had seven huge rebounds in 13 minutes, and three offensive. He got us extra possessions, he covered up some holes defensively, he was able to switch off on certain guys, move his feet stay in front of perimeter guys, get low, get into stance in the post and try to battle with Bam [Adebayo] which is no easy task at all.
“But yeah, just that guy that’s gonna put his head down and do whatever is needed of him or what the team needs in terms of getting extra possessions, being a physical presence, battling, guarding different positions, setting great screens, rolling, running hard in transition.”
Toscano-Anderson’s game is all about the dirty work. He worked a lot with Draymond Green while in Golden State and he is all about defense, effort and energy. He also is one of the few players the Lakers have who can bring some real size to the perimeter as the roster is littered with smaller guards.
The question is whether he can do enough on the offensive end to not be a hindrance on that side of the floor. If he is able to be just an average outside shooter, there is no doubt he would be a staple in Darvin Ham’s rotation, and one that can make a real impact for the Lakers. If he can have more performances like he did in Miami, Ham will certainly give him the opportunity as long as he can stay healthy.
Russell Westbrook stresses importance of Lakers’ role players playing with confidence
With Anthony Davis still being sidelined, it will be on all of the Lakers to step up collectively and that means role players providing an even bigger boost when their number is called. Russell Westbrook understands the need for the group to rise and when it comes to those role players, he believes the most important thing is confidence.
Westbrook noted that it is important for the role players to play with confidence when they are on the court and it is the job of the leaders on the team to instill that confidence in them. Westbrook added that everyone must come together and play the right way, while adding that it always puts a smile on his face to see the younger players doing well.
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