The Los Angeles Lakers have a problem most teams would envy, with diverse and deep talent at the center position.
However, the position battle has led to major debate within the fanbase — and team — about the most successful path to victory, with some favoring the physical, rebounding style of Andre Drummond and others backing savvy veteran Marc Gasol.
Drummond has assumed the starting role when active since being acquired off the buyout market in March, while Gasol — the former starter — has taken a backseat, logging multiple DNPs over the span.
Both big men have handled the situation gracefully and Drummond recently complemented Gasol for helping him with the transition to his new team.
“Marc has probably been the biggest help for me since I got here,” Drummond told reporters on Wednesday. “I admire his game. … He’s been very beneficial for me.”
Gasol Overcame Initial Disappointment of Benching
Getting sent to the bench wasn’t easy for Gasol, who had started nearly every game of his 12-year career. He initially called the Drummond signing a “tough pill to swallow,” but later came out with a strong statement reinforcing his commitment to the team.
“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,” Gasol said. “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.”
Vogel has also been adamant that having all three centers — Gasol, Drummond and Montrezl Harrell — sharp will be key when the games matter most.
“Those guys got to stay ready,” Vogel said. “It’s my job to keep them ready. That’s going to be the plan going forward. And we’re going to need all three of them.”
Gasol is averaging just 5.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists, but has been sharp from beyond the arc shooting over 40 percent, is an adept passer and has the basketball IQ to make the right play.
Gasol Not Worried About Role — Just Winning
Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma recently backed Gasol, saying the big Spaniard should see more minutes. Gasol said he appreciated the kind words, but doesn’t want to talk roles anymore.
“I think we have to start thinking more as a team instead of mentioning guys’ (roles),” Gasol said. “It’s more who we are as a team and who we’re going to be. Everyone tied to one another, because whether you play zero minutes or 20 minutes, the team’s success is everyone’s success.
“When you go out there, you try to do as well as possible to help the team, because if you help the team, more times than not you’re going to win a lot of games,” Gasol added. “I think we have to kind of forget about the players and situations, and individual guys, and think more as a whole about who we’re going to be as a team moving forward.”
Vogel commended Gasol for how he’s handled himself.
“Marc Gasol is a winner,” Vogel said. “He understands what it takes to win at a high level, and that type of commitment and sacrifice and whatever the team needs attitude is what’s necessary for us to win a championship, and that’s what we’re asking of him, and all of our guys really, and for him to be in that headspace and having that attitude is something that is really going to benefit us.”