As exciting as the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster looked when Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony joined the team last summer, some doubts over player compatibility quickly emerged after L.A. put the 2021-22 group together.
The Purple and Gold started the season with the oldest roster in the NBA, which looked like a red flag from the beginning. But also, the Lakers seemed to have severely underinvested in their defense, particularly after losing Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Fast forward eight months and the Purple and Gold have failed to qualify for the playoffs and are on course to finish with a bottom-10 defensive rating. The Lakers’ inaptitude to get stops seemed jarring throughout the season, particularly after boasting the NBA’s arguably best defense over the previous two years — orchestrated by one of the best defensive coaches in the league in Frank Vogel, no less.
In an interview with The Athletic’s Bill Oram, Vogel admitted he found it difficult to manage the team due to the roster’s lack of balance between offense and defense:
“The nature of how our offensive pieces fit together didn’t allow us to play with a defensive size and positional size that I typically like to have to give us that type of defensive success,” Vogel said. “So there were a lot more smaller lineups to open up the floor because of how our offensive pieces fit. Trying to make the offense work compromised our defense directly.”
Vogel added turning the 2021-22 Lakers into a defensively-solid team made for an insurmountable challenge considering the lack of defensive specialists on the roster:
“The habit building, there was a lot to make up with,” Vogel said. “Guys that did not have great defensive habits. You know what I mean? So you coach it on a daily basis and push them to be accountable. But there was just a lot to overcome with this year’s team.”
Despite the flaws of the 2021-22 Lakers roster, Vogel is likely to pay a hefty price for the team’s failure. Latest reports claim L.A. is expected to fire the head coach after the season concludes.
Vogel feels ‘disappointed’ for Lakers fans and Buss family after nightmare 2021-22
Following L.A.’s elimination from the Play-In Tournament race, Vogel said he felt disappointed his team failed to meet the expectations of the Lakers faithful and the Buss family.
“Disappointed for our fanbase, disappointed for the Buss family, who gave us all this opportunity. We want to play our part and bring success to Laker basketball,” the head coach said after Tuesday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns.
“We fell short. We were eliminated tonight and I can say it’s not been due to the lack of effort. We have all put in the work. Our guys stayed fighting right until the end. I know we have games left but in terms of being eliminated. Brought integrity to the process. We just fell short through a disjointed season. We’re all disappointed.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!