The Los Angeles Lakers have relied on every one of their players to get through this stretch without superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. One of the players Frank Vogel turned to regularly was Montrezl Harrell, who at one point seemed to be the team’s most consistent performer.
That has changed in the month of April however as Harrell has struggled mightily in the team’s 10 games so far. Harrell is averaging just 7.6 points and 5.7 rebounds on 46.8% shooting after posting averages of 19.5 points and 7.8 rebounds on 64.6% shooting in March.
Vogel spoke to what he believes could be causing Harrell’s current struggles. “We’re evolving as a team. We’re working new guys in. Roles are changing slightly,” Vogel said. “We want to continue to make sure Trezz is getting the ball in positions to score where he’s at his best.”
The addition of Andre Drummond has certainly cut into Harrell’s minutes as the two big men play very similar roles, which likely wouldn’t mesh well together. Harrell hasn’t scored more than 12 points in any of the last eight games and finished with just two points in 13 minutes in the Lakers’ recent loss to the Utah Jazz.
But Vogel isn’t losing faith in Harrell at all, crediting the Jazz defense for his most recent subpar outing. “He’s had some good performances,” Vogel added. “Tonight our ballhandlers didn’t deliver the ball to him in a position where he could make something happen.
“Credit Utah’s defense for the way they were playing. They really took our pick-and-roll game out of the game tonight. That’s what limited Trezz.”
Harrell has been an absolute spark plug off the bench for much of this season with the Lakers, as has been the case throughout his career. While he has his limitations, he always gives maximum effort any time he’s on the court and will undoubtedly have a role on this team moving forward.
But he does have his limitations as well, and that has shown up in certain matchups this season. Vogel will continue to work in his new players, and the pending returns of James and Davis will force the need for more chemistry building as well. With so many options at his disposal, Vogel will have to figure out the best way to employ Harrell to get the most out of him moving forward.
Kuzma unsure what Lakers’ closing lineup will be when healthy
Harrell is one of many players who will be relied upon if the Lakers plan on winning a championship, but who will be the team’s closing lineup is unclear as James and Davis are set to return. Even to the players themselves, who will be on the floor next to the team’s stars is unclear.
“We don’t really know what a closing lineup is for us this year at all,” Kuzma said after the Lakers’ loss to the Jazz.
“Obviously it’s gonna be usually AD and Bron and then whoever’s really hot, whoever’s shooting, whoever’s defending, three guards, whatever. So it’s hard to really look at that now but we kind of know the formula of what we want to get to with a healthy closing lineup.”
As Kuzma said, the closing lineup will be based on both matchups and who is playing great that night. But he also knows it will require some sacrifice from the players, even those playing well right now.
“It’s gonna be some tough decisions, it’s gonna be people that are playing really well right now, playing a lot of minutes that those minutes get shifted just from the dynamic of having those two great players out there.”
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