For the entirety of the 2020-21 season, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel avoided playing Marc Gasol alongside Montrezl Harrell. In fact, prior to Sunday’s win over the Phoenix Suns, the two had never shared the floor for even one second of game time.
On Sunday, Vogel decided to try it as the center rotation became more and more crowded. The two played four minutes alongside one another — hardly a sample size big enough to draw any conclusions — and it did not have statistical success.
The pair had an offensive rating of 88.9 and a defensive rating of 170 for a net rating of minus-81.1. While it is a remarkably small sample size, it is actually the fourth-worst net rating of any two-man pairing the Lakers have put on the court for the entire season.
Vogel gave Harrell and Gasol a chance to play with one another and sees both positives and negatives to it being a normal part of the rotation. “It was a minus nine overall, but that’s just because we gave up two threes during that stretch in the fourth. I think there’s some benefits to playing a lineup like that,” Vogel said.
“Obviously, there’s some risk as well because both are used to defending the center position, but you want to get your best players out there and it’s one of the things that we haven’t quite looked at yet when we’re trying to manage the addition of Andre [Drummond] with those two guys who are used to playing big minutes as well. I did like what it looked like tonight. I think we’re getting better again playing with two bigs whether it’s Anthony [Davis] and Drummond or Marc and Trezz together and some of the dynamics that go into that. I think it was a positive even though the overall net was a negative. I think it was a positive for the energy of our group.”
Gasol spoke about what he and Harrell could bring together, saying that defense will be more of an adjustment than offense.
“I think offensively it can work just fine just because the nature of each other and how we play. I’m able to read behind and kind of fill in depending on what the defense gives us. And on the other side, we have to do a better job of communicating on screens. Everyone needs to be aware that it’s an adjustment process when that lineup is on the floor.”
If the Lakers do decide they want to use this pairing in the postseason when Anthony Davis needs a rest, they’ll need to use a lot more than just four minutes in the team’s final games. The postseason rotation cannot be a continued experiment, and it’s clear given last season’s success that Vogel is aware of that.
Since the arrival of Andre Drummond, fans have been clamoring for this pairing to be used. Well, Vogel appears to be listening. Hopefully, they’ll have some more time to prove what they can do together before the playoffs.
Gasol gives update on health after COVID
After returning from the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Gasol revealed that he tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). Now that he is a couple of months removed, Gasol discussed how difficult that time was and how he’s feeling now.
“I’m a lot better than the first few weeks after COVID. The first I would say month after COVID was challenging obviously, the threshold is very limited. But once you get used to it you get better like anything, you stay patient and things work out in a good way. So I feel like I’m pretty much back to my athletic ways [laughs].
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