Below is the tenth in a series previewing the storylines surrounding each player on the Lakers’ roster for the 2013-14 season. This post focuses on Lakers backup center Robert Sacre.
1. Will Robert Sacre have a bigger role? Even if he made the best of an opportunity for the 60th draft pick, Sacre’s role usually amounted to nothing more than providing some energy when Dwight Howard experienced health issues and leading the bench in cheers. With Howard’s departure, it’s possible Sacre will have more of a chance to contribute. But that’s not entirely clear. The Lakers have plenty of big men, ranging from Chris Kaman, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill, three players who will take most of the minutes assuming they’re healthy and not playing in a blow-out game. Still, teams can never have too many big men for various reasons.
Players, such as Sacre, can make the rest of the frontcourt practice harder by playing physical and competitive with them. Kaman, Gasol and Hill all face uncertainty on whether they can stay healthy. Expect the Lakers only to use Sacre in emergency situations. But it’s an option the Lakers are fortunate to have.
2. Has Sacre developed more of his game? Of course, Mike D’Antoni’s willingness to use Sacre will depend on how much he’s improved this offseason. The Lakers wanted him to work more on his outside shooting and mobility in hopes that he’d become more than just an energy guy. Sacre provided encouraging signs on the Lakers’ Summer League team by averaging 8.6 points, 6.6 boards and a 78.9 percent clip from the foul line through five games. But Sacre only shot 42.4 percent from the field and appears raw in his post-game. The Lakers see value in Sacre or else they wouldn’t have committed a three-year deal in him. But it remains to be seen how quickly Sacre will develop.
3. Sacre’s hustle will be needed. Even if his game remains a work in progress, Sacre still averaged 6.7 points and three rebounds in three starts last season when the Lakers had injuries to Howard and Gasol. It’s not a good thing if Sacre suddenly has a huge role this season since it’d mean the Lakers couldn’t stay healthy. But Sacre has both the makeup and work ethic to provide a few solid minutes to give his frontcourt teammates some rest. That could go a long way in ensuring the Lakers’ big men stay fresh throughout the season.
4. Sacre will keep the locker room loose If nothing else, Sacre will still remain a welcome presence simply because of his light-hearted and eager personality. That goes a long way on a veteran-team, such as the Lakers, where playing time remains scarce. It’s also a huge reason why the Lakers kept Sacre after one season. Sacre remains both realistic in understanding his pecking order, while remaining eager to work with all the Lakers’ coaches to improve on his game.
5. Will Sacre have any new cheers on the bench? Sacre appeared on many of the Lakers’ highlight reels even though he mostly sat on the bench. That’s because any Bryant game-winner, Howard dunk or Metta World Peace three-pointer immediately prompted Sacre to stand up, cheer or dance. Lakers development coach Mark Madsen, who led the Lakers’ championship parades with many dances, may teach Sacre a few more dance tricks. It wouldn’t hurt too if he taught him some dance moves, too.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org