Key #2: How does Montrezl Harrell mesh with Anthony Davis?
At the center position, the Lakers will likely start games with Marc Gasol and close them with Montrezl Harrell. Gasol and AD figure to have immediate chemistry on offense due to Gasol’s passing and AD’s finishing. But it’s unclear how Harrell and AD will play together. They both love to set up shop on the mid-post area on the baseline.
Will that be a problem? Tonight’s game will hopefully give us some insight.
The Suns have Deandre Ayton as a burgeoning rim protector. Ayton may give AD or Harrell some trouble in the paint due to his massive frame. But the rest of the Suns trends smallish. Coach Vogel would be wise to give the AD-Harrell frontcourt as much time as possible in the first half to iron out their in-game chemistry.
Harrell will inevitably need to learn how to play off the ball. He must time his cuts from the top of the key to the baseline, which is almost always open when AD or LeBron attacks from the mid-post area. Harrell is a beast crashing the glass from the middle. He just has to learn the same kind of timing cutting to the basket as he does when he crashes the glass.
It is inevitable AD and Harrell will have trouble playing together. Their games overlap. Talking heads may look at their potentially less-than-stellar two-man plus/minus as some kind of overarching judgment on the Lakers, which is absurd. I expect them to iron out any differences in the early part of the season.
As the season progresses, their chemistry will improve. Not that AD can only operate in five-out spacing. He shared the court with Javale McGee and Dwight Howard after all. Over 80% of Harrell’s shots have come inside the paint this preseason – and he has made a more concerted effort to take midrange shots.
Let’s see how they fare tonight in their limited action together.