In his debut for the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, Andre Drummond was limited to just 14:20 because of a big toe contusion he suffered in the first quarter of the game. Prior to Drummond’s injury, he and Montrezl Harrell split the minutes at the center position while Marc Gasol, the team’s former starting center, watched from the bench.
Gasol ended the night having played only 5:37, minutes he likely wouldn’t have gotten if Drummond stayed in the game. Gasol declined to speak to the media after the game.
While it’s possible that Wednesday’s game was the beginning of the end for Gasol, Frank Vogel said that he plans on maximizing the minutes his centers play by trying new combinations in the front court, including a pairing of Gasol and Harrell.
“It’s a lineup that I think can work,” Vogel said during his pregame media availability on Wednesday. “We haven’t really had a need to go to that up to this point in the season, but it’s definitely something we’re going to look at... the way it (would) work is, offensively, Marc is basically the 4 with Trezz being the 5 and, defensively, Marc’s the 5 and Trezz is the 4. It’s something that I’m actually excited to see.”
On the surface, a front court pairing of Gasol and Harrell makes a ton of sense because of Gasol’s ability to shoot the 3-ball and clog the paint on defense and Harrell’s ability to get to the rim at will. In theory, their styles of play don’t clash; they actually complement each other really well. The real issue is minutes distribution.
The Lakers have three players that have played more than 50% of their minutes at the 4 this season: Anthony Davis, Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma. Even if Kuzma plays the majority of his minutes at the 3 when Davis returns, there still won’t be enough playing time for Davis, Drummond, Gasol, Harrell, Kuzma and Morris. That’s not to mention LeBron James, who plays the 4 in certain situations.
Depth isn’t a bad thing, as the Lakers have learned in the games they’ve played without James and Davis, but it can be a thorn in any head coach’s side when everyone has shown they deserve a spot in the rotation. Suffice to say, Vogel and his coaching staff are in a tough spot — let’s hope they can figure things out without creating any discord in the locker room.