3. Can the Los Angeles Lakers fully take advantage of Marc Gasol’s passing?
After their second preseason game, Vogel praised Gasol’s playmaking, commenting on how his unique skill set will add another dimension to the Lakers’ offense.
However, in their season opener against the Clippers, those passes from the high-post that made Lakers fans giddy were conspicuously absent from the Lakers playbook.
In the post-game press conference, Vogel blamed himself for failing to utilize Gasol’s vision. One can also point to foul trouble preventing Gasol from getting into his rhythm.
But in lineups brimming with offensive talent, Gasol’s high-post passing risks becoming a luxury, an afterthought as other players orchestrate the offense. To start, the Lakers sent out a lineup of Schröder, Caldwell-Pope, James, Davis, and Gasol. Schröder, James, and Davis will all demand touches. Are there enough possessions left for Gasol?
In a movie with a star-studded cast, some stars have to take a backseat.
That does not mean the Lakers are not equipped to take advantage of Gasol’s high-post passing. Kuzma and Caruso are instinctual cutters. Against the Rocket’s switching scheme in the playoffs, Kuzma and Caruso’s cutting gave the Lakers a dose of unpredictability and a way to generate easy points against a defense trying to induce them into playing isolation basketball. Gasol showcased nice chemistry with Caldwell-Pope during the preseason.
Playing with a playmaker like Gasol gives players an incentive to add a little umph to their movements. Each cut becomes a little sharper and faster because the players know that any separation that they gain from their defenders will be rewarded.
Can Vogel find the right lineup combinations to ensure that Gasol’s playmaking will not become a mere luxury? His post-game comments suggest he will, but it is something to keep an eye on nonetheless.