One of the biggest challenges facing Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel right now is sorting out his center rotation after Andre Drummond joined two other big men deserving of minutes in Marc Gasol and Montrezk Harrell.
Drummond was immediately handed the starting job after signing with the team, but through his first 14 games he has had plenty of ups and downs. While at times he has been a dominating force inside, at others, he has struggled to fit in and Gasol and Harrell have both looked like better options.
That’s all part of the process of getting acclimated with a new team, which hasn’t been easy considering how many players have been in and out of the lineup due to injury during Drummond’s short time with the Lakers according to Vogel.
“Yeah, he’s not quite where we want him to be yet,” Vogel admitted after Wednesday’s practice. “But that’s part of adding a guy midseason with so many other moving parts involved. I think if we were whole, the integration process with Drummond would’ve gone smoother and he would be further along. But we haven’t been, there’s been so many moving parts around him that’s been tough in some situations to get a rhythm. Overall I’m very happy with what he’s bringing to our team but it still needs to be improved and that’s what we’re working on each day.”
During Monday night’s win over the Nuggets, Drummond was relegated to the bench for most of the second half while in foul trouble while Gasol was able to save the day with some strong play. Vogel doesn’t expect that to become a theme though as he continues to find the right rotations in his frontcourt.
“There’s gonna be minutes for him and he’s gonna help us win a championship this year and compete. The fact that the other guys are playing well also is always a good thing. It’s what they call a good problem and finding ways for all those guys to contribute is one of my bigger challenges right now and just measuring each game, what it’s gonna take to win that game is also a big challenge for us.
“But we’ve said from Day 1 that we’re gonna need all three of those guys and that’s been playing out as we predicted and that’s gonna stay the case.”
Part of the reason why Vogel continues to start Drummond and play him big minutes, often at Gasol’s expense, is so he can get more comfortable playing alongside Anthony Davis.
“Yeah, it is and I think the minutes that he’s playing with AD, that’s probably the most important thing that we’re looking at, trying to build that relationship. Obviously it’s gonna look a lot better when our primary creator, quarterback, ball-handler is in there, but they still have to have as many minutes together as possible to try to build those relationships.”
Drummond also discussed how he and Davis have paired together so far and he is pleased with what he’s seen.
“I think the partnership between AD and I, we’re coming along great,” Drummond said. “We’re figuring it out little by little, day by day. We talk to each other, we watch film together and then just being in practice, we’re learning each other’s spots, where he likes the ball, when he likes pick-and-rolls, when he likes for me to come duck in and when he likes the space. And I think just the more we play together and the more we communicate, we’ll find that rhythm.”
Drummond says Gasol has helped him most since coming to L.A.
Often times when someone comes in and takes another player’s starting spot, there can be animosity in the locker room amongst them as everyone wants to get time on the floor to help their team win.
Gasol has remained professional throughout this time though and Drummond is appreciative of the help he has given him.
“I think Marc has probably been the biggest help for me since I got here despite moving to the third center or second center,” Drummond said. “I always got to him and ask him questions when it comes to the defensive aspect of the game and just spacing-wise offensively because he’s been here. I admire his game, I’ve gotten the chance to play against him for many years and just to know his knowledge of what it takes to be a winner, he’s won.
“He’s won twice already so just to get that insight from him on what I need to do to help this team on both ends of the court, he’s been very beneficial for me.”
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