One of the big questions regarding the Los Angeles Lakers has been their center rotation. Andre Drummond has assumed the starting role since he was brought in off the buyout market, and Montrezl Harrell has been one of the team’s best reserves for much of the season. This has left Marc Gasol out of the rotation on many nights recently.
But when Frank Vogel has called on Gasol, he has been excellent in recent months and that was again the case in the Lakers’ contest against the Portland Trail Blazers. Gasol’s box score numbers won’t necessarily stand out as he finished with six points, four rebounds and two steals, but his impact was felt throughout the contest and he was clearly the Lakers’ best big man not named Anthony Davis.
Harrell, on the other hand, did not see the floor during the contest and Vogel explained his reason for turning to Gasol on this night. “With Marc, it’s just Dame Lillard and two really big centers and I just wanted to use Marc’s defense,” Vogel said after the Lakers’ five-point loss to the Blazers.
“Also without a primary playmaker offensively, there’s two ways to go, you can play through Trezz a lot rolling to the basket, but Marc sort of energizes the whole group with his passing. So it’s impossible decision to find the right choice here but we decided to go with Marc and he played great.”
Harrell provides a level of scoring in the paint that Gasol doesn’t without a doubt. But with the Lakers down LeBron James, Dennis Schroder and Talen Horton-Tucker, the team needed another playmaker in the lineup and Gasol undoubtedly provides that. In fact, Gasol basically served as the team’s point guard at times during the contest, bringing the ball up and initiating the offense successfully.
Furthermore, the Blazers have a pair of true big men in Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter who are the types of players to give Harrell troubles.
Each of the Lakers’ centers provides something different to the team and Vogel has difficult decisions every night in trying to figure out who can best help the team win. On this night Gasol was the choice and he came through, but each of Harrell, Drummond, and Gasol will be needed if the Lakers plan on defending their championship.
Gasol emphasizes team success ahead of personal situation
Because of the Lakers’ depth, minutes are going to be hard to come by for multiple players who are deserving of regular playing time. Everyone will have to sacrifice to accomplish the ultimate goal and Gasol has undoubtedly bought into the needs of the team above any individuals.
“I think we have to start thinking more as a team instead of mentioning guys,” Gasol said. “It’s more who we are as a team and who we are going to be. Everyone tied to one another, regardless of your situation. You zero minutes, you play 20 minutes. The theme of success is everyone is everyone’s success.
“When you go out there, you try to do as best as possible to help the team because if you help the team more times than not we’re going to win a lot of games. I think we kind of have to forget about the players and the situations and individual guys and think more as a whole of who we’re going to be as a team moving forward.”
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