Robert Sacre continues to try to master craft

Lakers center Robert Sacre is averaging 18.6 minutes per game in the month of March, which is his highest total in any month this season.

Howard Smith

Nothing has come easy for Robert Sacre on the basketball court.

His playing time was minimal early in his career at Gonzaga. He took a medical redshirt his sophomore season after playing in just five games while attempting to come back from foot surgery. Following his college career, Sacre was the equivalent of football’s Mr. Irrelevant, taken by the Lakers with the 60th and final overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft.

Since entering the NBA, he’s done the one thing he knows how to do: work.

Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni is straightforward about who he feels is the hardest worker on the team. It’s Sacre.

"Without a doubt," the head coach said. "It’s not even close."

D’Antoni says Sacre’s hard work is not limited to one area of the Lakers El Segundo training facility. He’s the hardest worker on the practice court — before, during, and after practice, as well as in the weight room. The head coach adds he’s also the team’s best defender.  

On Wednesday night, some of that hard work paid off for the seven-footer who grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench, although the result was a loss for the Lakers against the Spurs.

His extended playing time of late has been a reward of sorts from D’Antoni, who’s a believer of all of the hard work Sacre has put in. The Lakers center has logged at least 22 minutes in each of the last three games, and he’s averaging 18.6 minutes per game this month, his highest total for any month this season. 

He’s also become less of a liability on the floor. The team formerly lost something offensively when he was on the floor, but that’s no longer the case. The Lakers can now "still score with him on the floor," D’Antoni says.

On Wednesday night, there were moments the Lakers went with a lineup that featured Sacre playing alongside Pau Gasol in the front court, which was a rare sight to see for the Lakers — two bigs on the floor at the same time.

Sacre is just happy to get the minutes.

"I want to be able to play with anybody," Sacre said. "I love playing with Pau but in practice I’d rather guard Pau. That’s my thing. He makes me better."

At the end of the day, that’s what it all boils down to for Sacre, getting better.

"I take pride in always getting better," Sacre said. "I don’t see it as anything else. This is my job. This is my profession. If you were working on cars you always have to keep getting better, right? So that’s the same deal with this. I don’t care what you do, you always have to master your craft."