Amid a Lakers season filled with flimsy defense, there remains one consistent presence that hustles on every possession. Amid a team filled with players who occasionally try to pad their statistics, the Lakers have one player who does not worry about such a thing. Amid a roster filled with potential free agents who have uncertain futures, there’s one player that has no such concern. His name is Robert Sacre, and Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni cannot rave enough about him. “He works harder than anyone on the team,” D’Antoni said. “It’s not even close — in the weight room, out on the floor, in practice. He’s trying to make himself into a player. That’s one of the reasons why I’m going to go with him and reward him.” Sacre has averaged a modest 5 points on 48.5 percent shooting and 3.7 rebounds in 15.8 minutes entering the Lakers’ (24-48) game today against the Phoenix Suns (44-29) at Staples Center. But such numbers provide an incomplete snapshot explaining why Sacre has morphed from Mr. Irrelevant as the 60th pick in the second round of the 2012 NBA draft into the top of the frontcourt depth chart. They also explain why D’Antoni often has chosen Sacre over Chris Kaman’s offensive versatility and Jordan Hill’s energy either to back up Pau Gasol and occasionally play with each other. “He played very sluggish when we got him. Now he’s more athletic,” D’Antoni said. “That’s his work in the weight room and the coaches getting him to be more decisive in his moves with going to the basket and dunking. Instead of loading up, he is quicker off his feet. He’s always been a communicator. His knowledge of the defense is good. He shores up a lot of stuff that we need. He’s our best defensive player.” It also helps Sacre is under contract through next season for a relatively inexpensive $915,243. The Lakers then have a team option on him for the 2015-16 season worth $981,358. “I’m going to get better. I’m not happy with where I’m at right now,” Sacre said. “I can’t give you all my secrets. But I’m not happy with where I’m at and there’s more things I can do to get better.” Sacre may guard details surrounding his regimen as if they are classified documents. But accounts said Sacre devoted last offseason toward working on his mid-range jumper, post-up moves and pick-and-roll sequences after appearing raw his rookie season. D’Antoni believes he will refine those skills with more repetition. “Some stuff you have to play to get through,” D’Antoni said. “It’s a good thing we have this opportunity to play him and get him to be a good player in this league.” D’Antoni also shows appreciation that Sacre hustles even through blowout losses.
Robert Sacre a rare bright spot
L.A. Daily News | Mar 30