Lakers Must Listen To Frank Vogel!
Why the Lakers must build a roster that fits the style of offense and defense that new head coach Frank Vogel wants to play
The single most important move the Los Angeles Lakers can make to change the narrative and eliminate the most glaring dysfunction in the organization is to involve new head coach Frank Vogel in every roster decision they make.
Nothing is more important than the Lakers’ front office learning from and not repeating the blatant mistakes of the Magic Johnson regime by not listening to their coaching staff and signing players who didn’t fit the coach’s systems. The result was a misfit roster that didn’t complement the offense and defense former head coach Luke Walton was running or provide the outside shooting and floor spacing that LeBron James was used to and needed to play his best.
Regardless of the clumsy and flawed process that led to the hiring of Vogel, the Lakers are lucky to have ended up with a proven and experienced head coach who has strong views and opinions both offensively and defensively of how to transform the current roster into a genuine championship contender. Now it’s the job of the Lakers’ front office and scouting department to listen to coach Vogel and his staff and get them the players needed to reach that goal.
Listening to Frank Vogel address how his offensive and defensive philosophies have evolved is reassuring. He clearly understands the game has changed dramatically since he coached the Indiana Pacers for five years from 2011-16. A Rick Pitino disciple, Vogel used his two-year stint with the Orlando Magic from 2016–18 as a “laboratory” to experiment with more 3-point shooting and this last year as a “sabbatical” where he studied the changes in the game.
Offensively, Frank now has an “analytics based approach to playing the game outside-in” and fully understands the importance of “using the 3-point line and the space that creates to open up a really strong basket-attacking team.” Defensively, he’s still a strong believer in “building the team from the inside out. For all the talk of the 3-point line, the basket is still the top priority, the paint is a top priority but then we will spread out and guard the 3-point line.”
The Lakers front office and scouting department must now find players who fit the offensive and defensive strategies and systems coached by Frank Vogel. That means involving Vogel and his coaching staff in the important decisions of whom to choose in the upcoming draft, whom to sign in free agency both from other teams as well as from last year’s Lakers’ roster, and whom to target and whom to be willing to give up in potential trades with other NBA teams.
Offensively, the Lakers’ top priority must be improved three-point shooting, which could mean picking an elite three-point shooter like Darius Garland in the draft or established prolific three-point shooters like Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, or Kemba Walker in free agency. It could also mean re-signing players from last year’s Lakers’ roster like Reggie Bullock or Mike Muscala who are both proven three-point shooters as well as inexpensive veterans.
Defensively, one of the big questions Frank Vogel should have a big part in will be whether to bring back JaVale McGee as the Lakers’ starting center. Vogel still believes that great defense starts with outstanding rim protection. While switchability has now become the new standard in defensive strategy, Frank enjoyed great success as an elite defensive coach in Indiana by having Roy Hibbert protecting the paint and believes teams do too much switching.
A player whom I think might be the perfect fit for Vogel both on offense and defense might be the Brook Lopez who was at the heart of the Buck’s solving their need for more three-point shooting to unleash Giannis Antetokounmpo. A center duo of Lopez and McGee could be the answer for the Lakers at both ends of the court. Both are great shot blockers. Lopez could provide prolific three-point shooting while McGee delivers the requisite pick-and-roll dunks.
Like with the NBA Draft Lottery, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Ending up with Frank Vogel as their new head coach could certainly fall into the same category as landing the #4 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Just as the Lakers need to listen to what coach Vogel and his staff have to say about building their roster for next year, they need to listen to what he has to about togetherness and the Lakers as an organization getting on the same page:
“We need to build togetherness within the organization. And I don’t just mean with the fifteen guys or seventeen guys in the locker room. I’m talking about organizational togetherness, starting with ownership, front office, to the coaching staff, the trainers, the business side. We’re all going to be pulling in the same direction. How we do things day-to-day translates to the court and how we play. We can accomplish amazing things if everybody is together.”
With Magic Johnson departed, the Lakers are suffering from a huge void in leadership. Nobody really knows who’s in charge or who’s setting direction. Right now, Frank Vogel may be the best option the Lakers have for a leader.
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