Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel must inspire a weary Lakers squad
Frank Vogel has done a masterful job during his time as the head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. Blessed with two generational talents in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Lakers coach Frank Vogel zigged when other coaches would have zagged.
While the whole league trended towards three-point shooting, Vogel doubled-down on his defensive-minded brand of basketball.
His approach worked: the Lakers winning their 17th championship and are favored to repeat as back-to-back champions. Let us not get too far in the forest to see the trees. The Lakers are still an amazing basketball team. But the standards must be higher for this Lakers team.
It is fair to critique their performance regardless of how many games they win. Their loss against San Antonio should be equally as scrutinized as if they had won the game, especially because these red flags were also present during the Lakers’ four-game win streak. The only difference is San Antonio shot the lights out of the Staples Center when the Lakers lost.
Wins and losses are obviously very important; the process to win those games is as equally as important. The Lakers are making focus-based errors on both ends right now: they are turning the ball over more than usual on offense; their fundamentals are lacking on defense.
This should be very concerning for Lakers fans. There is no such thing as an on-off switch. It is up to Lakers coach Frank Vogel to refocus the team, which is why he is key for tonight’s game.
Why turnovers are especially a concern vs Chicago:
Turnovers can be somewhat fixed when the team’s chemistry improves. Keep in mind players usually only have a split second to make the right play because the game is so fast-paced.
For example, Talen Horton-Tucker only had a split-second window to pass the ball to Anthony Davis on this drive. He did not see the Spurs defender coming over to cut off that pass until it was too late. This is why most players should never make a pass while in the air.
In retrospect, THT should have just gone up for the contested layup. There was way too much (Los Angeles area) traffic to even think about making such a pass.
The Chicago Bulls will punish these Lakers’ mistakes even more strongly. Chicago led the league with 10 steals per game last year. Their personnel largely stayed intact from last season, so it is imperative the Lakers take care of the ball.
Explaining the Lakers current defensive woes:
At first glance, Dejounte Murray clearly made a great shot on this possession. But Murray only made the shot because Anthony Davis closed out on him with his hands down, which is a cardinal sin in basketball.
As Mark Jackson would say: “hand down, man down.”
Analysts would have praised AD’s on-ball defense on Murray had he missed the shot. Instead, he is criticized because his man made the shot on his dime. That example shows the results are not always the best indicator of how well a team is playing.
That shot likely would have rimmed out during the Lakers’ four-game win streak. Murray and the rest of the Spurs could not have hit water even if they had jumped into downtown San Antonio’s Riverwalk. Memphis could not have thrown a grape into the Mississippi River considering they were without their two best players, Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.
Who the Lakers must stop on Chicago:
Chicago’s backcourt is underrated. Zach Lavine is more known for his performances in the slam dunk contest but can also get buckets in a hurry. Colby White is quickly emerging as one of the better young point guards in the NBA.
For instance, there was virtually no help defense as Colby White eviscerated the porous Sacramento Kings’ defense on this possession. White ended up with a career-high 36 points although they lost in a high-scoring affair.
Zach Lavine, however, is the team’s closer. His step-back three-pointer against the Portland Trailblazers proved to be the difference in a statement victory for the upstart Bulls. He can quickly put Chicago up by double-digits if he gets hot.
Make no mistake about it: White and Lavine will carve up the Lakers defense if the Lakers guards do not guard them. The focus and attention to detail on defense must be there at all times.
Coach Vogel has made it a point of emphasis to never lose two consecutive games. Vogel must find a way to motivate each Lakers player to maintain their focus throughout the game.
Although it is the second half of a back-to-back, Vogel’s leadership must compel the purple and gold to have a stronger effort tonight than in their previous five games.
The Lakers know what they must do. They just have to do it.