The Lakers made several huge splashes in the offseason with a few key signings and the trade for Dennis Schröeder from Oklahoma City. Marc Gasol, Wesley Matthews and Montrezl Harrell all joined the team via free agency and many pundits labeled the Lakers offseason as the best; a scary thought for the rest of the league as the team is coming off of a dominant postseason run that ended with the team securing the 17th title in franchise history.
Fans eagerly expected the four to showcase their talents to full effect on opening night against the Clippers, but while Harrell and Schröeder each had nice games, Gasol and Matthews struggled to find a way to contribute on either end of the floor.
Gasol picked up five fouls on the night while being aggressive on defense, but didn’t find a way to affect the game on offense. Frank Vogel admitted he could have used Gasol better on that end in the post-game press conference.
Vogel says that Marc Gasol will be "fine" and took some of the blame for an underwhelming night.
"I'm disappointed in myself, I didn't put the ball in his hands more at the top of the key."
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 23, 2020
Vogel has always held himself accountable when the team underperforms, something that previous coaches in recent years for the Lakers struggled to do. It’s a quality about him that I’ve always loved and I think he gains a lot of respect in the locker room from the team.
As posted on our Patreon (with a preview shown in the tweet below), there is a very clear path to Gasol being able to perform more on the offensive end, and some nights the matchups don’t work out in his favor. Tonight was one of those nights and the team had to adapt to different strategies to keep the game close with Paul George surging on offense.
Patreon Exclusive: @UnwrittenRul3s takes us into the film room for a preview of how Marc Gasol fits into the Lakers' offense ahead of opening night. Preview below and full video available at this link: https://t.co/wdYwwlcah1 pic.twitter.com/4Zxdp2X7uq
— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) December 22, 2020
Gasol finished with no points and just one rebound and assist in 12 minutes with five fouls.
Matthews somehow had a worse game than Gasol, playing 11 minutes and 0-for-2 from the field with a steal and was a team-worst -18. Vogel didn’t make any comments on Matthews game tonight, but he was a solid contributor on the league-best Milwaukee Bucks last season in the regular season. It’s illogical to write Matthews off after one bad performance, especially the first game of the regular season after a shortened pre-season and training camp.
There were a lot of positives from the 116-109 loss to the Clippers, but Matthews and Gasol will be looking to come out with a better performance next time out. Based on their careers and performances last season, coupled with more time practicing with the team, I have no reason to doubt them.