- Frank Vogel reiterated that Andre Drummond will be the Lakers’ new starting center.
- Marc Gasol says he is full committed to the team regardless of his role.
- Drummond returned to action on Thursday, scoring 15 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, in a loss to the Miami Heat.
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel reiterated that Andre Drummond will be the team’s starter moving forward.
That has been the perceived direction for the Lakers but since Drummond’s Purple and Gold debut was cut short by a toe nail injury, Marc Gasol has played some of his best basketball of the season.
Entering Thursday’s game against the Miami Heat, Gasol averaged 9.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game in the three games that Drummond has missed. The Lakers went 2-1 during that period.
When Drummond first came, Gasol seemed hostile to the fact that AD2 was going to take over his starting spot. But the former Defensive Player of the Year has reassessed the situation and is now fully committed to helping the team, regardless of the minutes, if any, he plays in the team’s coming games.
“I’ll stay ready. I’m going to tell you this: I’m fully committed to the team. I’ll stay ready when my number is called. I understand we have to get Andre acclimated to what we’re trying to do. We have to get back our two main guys — Bron and A.D. whenever they come back — and they have to get that group going and get some chemistry going with the first unit for them. I’ll be ready no matter what happens. No matter if it’s five minutes, 10 minutes, if it’s whatever position. If it’s some nights, I might not play. But I’ll stay ready, no matter what. I made that commitment.
Marc Gasol on his role:
“I’m fully committed to the team…no matter if it’s 5 minutes, 10 minutes, some nights I won’t play…I’ll stay ready.”
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) April 7, 2021
When Gasol signed with the Lakers during the offseason, he did so because he wanted to help the team win, not just to sit on the bench and wait for another ring. But things have not worked well for the Spaniard in Los Angeles, at least so far.
The 36-year old is averaging career lows across the board: 5.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game in 19.8 minutes of action per outing. He has not been the defensive presence the team hoped he would be. And with the injuries to Anthony Davis and LeBron James, his shortcoming have been highlighted as the Lakers struggle to pick up wins and continue to drop in the standings.
Drummond’s arrival only made Marc’s situation worse. With Drummond’s reputation as a double-double machine, and him being almost a decade younger than Gasol, it was obvious who would be the Lakers’ starting center. At first Gasol may have looked at Drummond as a threat. Now he sees him as an upgrade in their quest for banner number 18.
Lakers center Andre Drummond says he’s ready to return to the lineup against the Heat on Thursday, even though he’s still missing a toenail.https://t.co/8kVJM0Tpcz
— LakeShow (@LakeShowCP) April 7, 2021
And so on Thursday, Gasol’s commitment was put to the test. Despite missing a toenail, Andre Drummond returned to the Lakers lineup and got the start. As expected, Gasol sat the entire night and watched the Lakers play competitive basketball only to lose 110-104 to the Miami Heat.
Drummond had a better game than his Lakers debut. The 27-year old scored 15 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, issued three assists, and had two steals in 27 minutes of action. Montrezl Harrell played back-up and contributed 10 points and 9 rebounds. But despite a very solid effort from their two centers, the team gave up 15 more free throws with the Heat making 10 more, which was really the difference in the game.
Los Angeles now has dropped to 32-20 on the season and in 5th place in the Western Conference. They are now just one game ahead of the 6th seeded Portland Trail Blazers and unless Frank Vogel can contain this skid, the defending champions could find themselves fighting to stay in the Top 6. The best NBA betting sites still have the Lakers with the second best odds to win the NBA title, believing that they can turn it around in the playoffs when LBJ, AD, and AD2 play together. But obviously, that’s just wishful thinking now.