The Lakers have been fighting an uphill battle in recent games with some of their key players unable to suit up. The return of Dennis Shröder has helped, but they have still felt the absences of Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol.
One bright spot for the team this year has been the steady play of Montrezl Harrell. After coming over from the Clippers in the offseason, Harrell has been the team’s energy boost off of the bench while providing excellent rebounding and much-improved defense. The real question regarding Harrell is if the team should be finding some extra minutes for him, even when Davis and Gasol return. Harrell is averaging 15 points per game when playing at least 20 minutes. In comparison, he’s averaging 20.2 points per game when playing at least 30 minutes. That 5 point jump is significant considering the lack of offense currently being provided by the team’s other centers.
While an argument could be made that Harrell deserves to be in the starting lineup with those numbers, it isn’t quite that simple. He doesn’t get the touches he needs when most of his minutes come with other ball-dominant players like Shröder and LeBron, and it showed in his first start of the season on Tuesday against the Suns. Montrezl has come out and said that he prefers a bench role, which allows him to be the focus of the offense for stretches at a time.
At the end of the day, the Lakers need to find a way to get him some additional playing time. Not only has he proven himself capable, but the team doesn’t have many other options until Davis returns from injury. The All-Star break will be a chance for the team to get healthy and reset, but the second half of the year will hopefully feature an increased role for Harrell.