The Los Angeles Lakers should determine if Andre Drummond, Montrezl Harrell or Marc Gasol will play alongside Anthony Davis within the frontcourt.
That is a humiliation of riches from a expertise standpoint however now that the playoffs are right here and rotations rapidly start to tighten, that is exactly one of many selections that may make or break a crew vying to win a title.
To recap, after successful the championship in 2020, the Lakers re-organized their frontcourt to switch JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard with Harrell, the NBA’s reigning Sixth Man of the Yr, and Gasol. The franchise then landed Drummond within the buyout market.
Drummond performed his first sport in Southern California on March 31. Up till that time within the season, Gasol was featured within the beginning lineup for all 38 of his complete appearances. However throughout his 21 regular-season video games with the group, Drummond was at all times within the first unit.
This relegated Gasol right into a a lot smaller function, and after averaging greater than 26 minutes per sport final season, he performed simply 15.5 mpg between March 31 and Could 6. Throughout the ultimate 25 matches of the season, he solely noticed the ground 14 instances, logging a number of DNP-CDs.
However many have observed that Los Angeles seems a lot stronger with Gasol, not Drummond or Montrezl Harrell, within the beginning unit. At the same time as Lakers ahead Kyle Kuzma and he’ll agree, per The Athletic’s Jovan Buha:
“I’m undecided what to do. I want we might get a bit of bit extra time on the market with Marc (Gasol). That’d be one thing that might be fairly good for us, for certain.”
The Lakers outscored opponents by 11.0 factors per 100 possessions when Gasol appeared on the ground similtaneously LeBron James and 13.4 factors per 100 with Gasol alongside each James and Anthony Davis.
Los Angeles had a tough file through the stretch wherein they have been pressured to play with out each James and Davis because of damage. We are able to throw away a number of the minutes from these video games as a result of each superstars might be again for the playoffs, so performances with out them will not be key indicators of postseason play.
As Kuzma instructed, the outcomes weren’t as fairly for each Drummond and Harrell because the season neared its shut.
General, since March 31, the Lakers had a web ranking of 23.9 when Gasol shared the ground with Davis. For comparability, since that date, the defending champs recorded a web ranking of -3.4 with Davis on the ground with Drummond and -15.9 with Davis flanked by Harrell.
Head coach Frank Vogel insists that he’s not too involved concerning the early showings of Davis with Drummond (by way of OC Register):
“We performed with JaVale and Dwight all yr final yr. AD’s acquainted with enjoying with one other large man on the market with him, a lob menace. And we have been very profitable in these lineups. And Drummond’s gonna convey a unique stage of that big-big lineup that we noticed final yr.”
However maybe one cause for the drastic swing is as a result of Gasol is a a lot larger menace from past the arc than each Drummond and Harrell.
When he’s enjoying within the frontcourt, the Lakers at all times have significantly better spacing, opening the ground due to his sharpshooting expertise. Gasol is averaging 1.33 factors per possession on his soar shot, per Synergy, which ranks 99th percentile amongst all gamers.
Gasol can be capturing 41.0 p.c on his three-pointers in 2020-21 and he has 50 connections from lengthy distance. Drummond and Harrell, nevertheless, have 20 three-pointers over the course of their mixed careers.
When evaluating these three gamers, Gasol is, by far, probably the most spectacular playmaker as properly. His help proportion (14.5 p.c) ranks higher than eightieth percentile amongst large males for the tenth consecutive season, per Cleansing the Glass. Drummond (9.5 p.c) and Harrell (7.7 p.c) are a lot nearer to the positional common.
This has helped Los Angeles rating properly in transition because of insane outlet passes from Gasol like this one:
Good lord this outlet go by Marc Gasol.
Watch how he surveys the ground as he secures the rebound, and instantly launches as he lands in a single fluid movement. LeBron is superb at this. pic.twitter.com/hMTTlk9ELN
— Alex Regla (@AlexmRegla) Could 4, 2021
Defensively, in the meantime, Drummond is a multi-time rebounding champion who is way extra prolific as a glass cleaner. There are important limitations, nevertheless, to his defensive potential past simply the extra apparent counting stats like defensive rebounds.
Drummond allowed 1.20 factors per possession on jumpers in a set offense since becoming a member of the Lakers. Harrell didn’t carry out significantly better, permitting 1.12 factors per possession on these appears. Examine that with Gasol, whose opponents scored simply 0.98 PPP on jumpers in 2020-21.
General, Gasol’s defensive ranking (104.2) ranks eighth-best within the NBA amongst all gamers who recorded at the least 2,000 possessions.
Yea I have to see some Gasol-Bron playoff minutes
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) Could 17, 2021
For a holistic instance of his impression, take a look at the essential victory that his crew had over the Denver Nuggets on Could 3. Whereas it was only a four-point win, Los Angeles maintained a plus-minus of 17 factors through the 17 minutes that Gasol performed. Throughout these minutes, he missed just one shot whereas flattening 7 rebounds and recording a block.
He was used within the ending lineup towards Denver’s Nikola Jokic after which got here in to shut the sport towards the Phoenix Suns on Could 9. This could recommend that when crunch time is lastly right here within the playoffs, Gasol might be on the ground.
Whereas there was some cause for optimism concerning the pairing of Gasol and Harrell in direction of the tip of the season, their offensive prowess didn’t make up for the defensive limitations of the duo.
Every of those three gamers will give Los Angeles totally different strengths and weaknesses down the stretch, giving the crew reputable versatility.
Drummond is the present starter and Harrell is the participant with the best wage. Gasol, nevertheless, has championship expertise and is the participant who offers them the very best likelihood at defending the title.