The Los Angeles Lakers’ frontcourt depth took a massive hit when Anthony Davis was diagnosed with a calf strain, but the issue has been exacerbated with Marc Gasol’s absence as he goes through the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Without two of his starting bigs, head coach Frank Vogel has leaned on Damian Jones to fill the void in the middle of the paint. The 25-year-old has added a vertical spacing element to the offense with his ability to catch lobs and defensively has held up when called upon.
After a few impressive showings, the Lakers decided to sign Jones to a second 10-day contract. Vogel explained prior to their win against the Indiana Pacers what he wants to see out of the young center over the next couple of weeks.
“I want to see more of what he did,” Vogel said. “I thought he played well for us. He plays the role of a lob threat. Don’t try to play outside of that lane offensively, to be a screener and a lob threat and a rebounder offensively.
“And then defensively, to be able to man the middle. Be a shot blocker and play within our pick-and-roll coverages and obviously to rebound the ball and match up with other team’s bigger centers I think is what we asked him last week. I thought he did well with it and we will continue to look at that over the next 10 days.”
Jones ended up playing only 16 minutes against the Pacers but displayed his athleticism on both ends of the floor. He finished the night with seven points and one rebound but did drain 3-of-4 of his attempts from the line.
The center has fans on the team, with Kyle Kuzma going so far as to say he thinks Jones has a chance to stay with the Lakers for the rest of the season. The early returns have been promising, but Jones will need to continue to play well in order to earn a coveted spot on the roster.
Vogel on how he’ll manage frontcourt rotation without Davis, Gasol
Vogel has had to jigger his lineup on a night-to-night basis with players in and out of the lineup, so he detailed how he would shuffle the frontcourt minutes until Davis and Gasol return.
“We have two big guys that can man the middle,” Vogel said. “D.J. [Damian Jones] and obviously Trezz playing bigger minutes off the bench. We’ll start with D.J. again and keep Trezz in his role.
“And then Kieff has been starting doing a good job for us at the four position and play with a smaller second unit. That’s the formula I foresee going forward until guys are back.”
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