With Anthony Davis sidelined by a calf strain for at least the next month, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is counting on his other big men to step up. One of those players is Marc Gasol, who is in his 13th season.
The Lakers inked Gasol to a two-year contract as they looked to improve their frontcourt depth after trading JaVale McGee and watching the Philadelphia 76ers sign Dwight Howard. They grabbed Gasol, but 30 games into the season, his production hasn’t been fruitful.
Gasol is averaging career-lows in points per game (4.3), rebounds (4.2), field-goal percentage (40%) and field-goal attempts (3.5).
But as Davis faces an extended absence, Vogel believes Gasol is in a great position to be involved more within the offensive system. “We’re going to play through Marc a little more at the top,” Vogel said last week.
“Obviously LeBron is going to get more usage; but we don’t want to overdo that. We’ll have Trezz in the post and rolling to the basket, and all our perimeter guys moving and shooting. But again, it’s going to be a team approach.”
Against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Gasol turned in one of his best overall performances of the season with 11 points, one short of tying a season-high, and drilled 3-of-4 attempts behind the arc.
He found cutters from the high post and moved the ball well around the perimeter, which is what Vogel alluded to.
Defensively, Gasol helped stymie Timberwolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns to just 15 points, forcing him into tough shots or making him pass to teammates instead. Gasol also logged a season-high 30 minutes in the win, and Vogel said the veteran should get into a better rhythm with the chance to play extended minutes.
“He’s with a new team and in a unique situation playing with two big-time stars in LeBron and A.D.,” Vogel said. “The early part of the season, to his credit he really just tried to fit in with the minutes he’s getting.
“We slide A.D. over to the 5 a lot late, which leaves him out of the game, so I think it has been difficult at certain times to catch a rhythm. But I think you’re going to see during this stretch of games that he’s going to man the 5 position at a very high level.”
LeBron calls for collective effort with Davis out
When you’re missing a star player who chips in 22.5 points and 8.4 rebounds a game, you often can’t replace that production with one player. James said the Lakers need everyone to replace what Davis brings to the table.
“That’s our job, to come out and do more,” James said. “The four guys we brought in during the offseason, they all did more tonight. D.S., Trezz, Wes and Marc picked up their play, and we needed that from every last one of them. We’re going to need that while A.D. is out.”
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