The Montrezl Harrell-Marc Gasol Center Dilemma LA Lakers Need to Figure Out in Anthony Davis’ Absence

Published 03/07/2021, 1:00 PM EST
SHENZHEN, CHINA – OCTOBER 12: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the match against the Brooklyn Nets during a preseason game as part of 2019 NBA Global Games China at Shenzhen Universiade Center on October 12, 2019 in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. (Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)


In the first couple of months after the season began, Los Angeles Lakers looked on course to retain their NBA title. Even though they had some problems at number five and their three-point shooting, LeBron James, with his impeccable form, was pretty much masking it. But, they look more glaring now that Anthony Davis is out injured.

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Not only is he their best defender but also their best rim protector. Without him, their centers Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell look far too exposed.

Dec 22, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots against Los Angeles Lakers forward Montrezl Harrell (15) in the first quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It is much worse for Harrell, even though his stat sheet may suggest otherwise. Although he is averaging 13.8 points per game at 62.6% FG and grabbing 6.4 rebounds, he is less than a handful on defense. Reputed Los Angeles Times writer, Dan Woike, had this to say about Harrell in his Lakers newsletter

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“Speaking of centers, the Lakers need to figure out what to do with Montrezl Harrell.

“Earlier this year, Harrell stayed on the bench because Washington went too big. Against Phoenix, he stayed on the bench because the Suns went too small. Finding the “just right” matchups for him won’t cut it. He matters too much.

“Defensively, it seems like he’s not up to speed with what the Lakers want/need from him. And those problems look much worse with Davis not on the court. He can cover up for a lot of those errors.”

What can the Lakers do in Anthony Davis’ return?

Anthony Davis had an injury to his Achilles tendonitis. Fortunately, he did not face the worst consequence of his injury. But as more of a precautionary measure, the Lakers’ medical staff ruled him out for four weeks. That was on February 14, 2021.

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Feb 14, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) blocks the shot of Denver Nuggets guard Monte Morris (11) in the first quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Since then, they have lost six of their last eight games. Thankfully for them, he’s tipped to make his timely return just after the All-Star break. Although he is averaging 22.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.3 SPG, and 1.8 BPG per game, the fans expect him to have a better second half of the season.

He provides valuable defensive cover for the Lakers, which they intended to compensate with Damian Jones when they signed him for a 10-day contract. His future is uncertain and now that AD returns, they may not need him.

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Bharat Aggarwal

667 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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