Frank Vogel Believes Lakers Roster Construction Has Led To Defensive Issues
Frank Vogel, Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

There has been a stark difference in the Los Angeles Lakers’ defensive identity from the past two years to this season. During the championship campaign, Frank Vogel and a lengthy interior presence brought the Lakers to the No. 3 ranked defense in the league during the regular season.

The following year — despite injuries — Vogel’s scheme shined even brighter, as the Lakers ranked No. 1 in the NBA on defense. But this season, with a brand new roster and a completely shifted identity, the Lakers have dropped all the way to No. 17.

While remaining as diplomatic as he can, Vogel attributed the Lakers’ defensive issues to unusual roster construction.

“We’re not playing with as much size as we played with in the past because of the offensive perimeter shooting that we had in the past when we played with two seven-footers with AD and a big. We don’t have that type of offensive space so we’re playing with a lot of smaller lineups and we don’t have the defensive speed and defensive talent that we’ve had the last couple years,” Vogel said.

“But our guys are competing to learn a system that they’re all in, basically all of them are in year one executing, and we’re working through that stuff. Obviously if you have those variables changes, you’re in a situation where you’re adjusting your scheme as well, so we’re working through that.”

Despite all of the difficulties, Vogel and his coaching staff remain committed to finding solutions.

“That’s the tone that our coaching staff is setting, and our coaches have done a great job continuing to be very very detailed with the gameplans and we have stayed the course, being very detailed with our postgame evaluations, analysis and next day work. So if you’re asking if we’re still detail-oriented, 100%. The process is something we all really believe in and when we put in the work, we will see a new road, we will see improvement.”

Vogel reiterated having a growth mindset with regard to turning the season around in any limited capacity. “There’s answers in everything. To try to brush it off to the side, things are not gonna change,” Vogel said. “But with a growth mindset, putting in the work, the internal improvement and pure spirit is the only thing we have right now and that is enough, honestly.

“To continue to grow, to take the lessons from last night’s game with where we’re at and to apply them to the next, sticking to that process and continuing to put in the work, is the answer.”

The Lakers have just 20 regular-season games left to figure out some sort of working formula. At this point, it feels unlikely given the results of the past few games. But if L.A. can figure out a way to sneak into the postseason, it would feel like a massive win.

Vogel appears ready for the challenge, but the players have to meet him and the coaching staff halfway. The energy at Crypto.com Arena has been severely lacking since the All-Star break, and it’s fair to wonder if the players have any interest in being ready for the Play-In Tournament.

LeBron James has no plans to shut down for season

The ultimate waving of the white flag would be LeBron James deciding to shut it down for the remainder of the season. However, that hasn’t happened yet, and there are no plans in place for him to do so.

According to reports, James has said he is committed to playing out the remainder of the season, regardless of night-to-night results.

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