It seems like just yesterday that the Los Angeles Lakers were celebrating winning the organization’s 17th championship in the Orlando bubble, although the 2020-21 NBA season is now set to get underway.
The Lakers open up the season hosting the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday night, which will also serve as a celebration with players from last year receiving a championship ring prior to tipoff.
Once the ring ceremony is over, the focus will shift to basketball and the Lakers will face a very formidable opponent in the Clippers. As the Lakers get set to embark on the journey of another new season, head coach Frank Vogel discussed how prepared he thinks his team is after the short offseason.
“I don’t think we’re as ready as we would like to be. Like we’ve said all along, we’re not feeling sorry for ourselves in any way, but the short offseason and condensed preseason has us in a place where we’re probably going to still be figuring things out the first month or so of the season,” he said.
“We’ll probably have some ugly nights along the way, some ugly moments. That’s to be expected and that’s OK. We have a good team and good group of guys that are willing to come in and sacrifice to win a championship. I’m not really worried about the big picture, but we’re definitely not as ready as we normally would be to start a season. But that’s OK.”
The Lakers got even better on paper this offseason, making them the favorites to repeat. With all of the championship experience on this roster, Vogel is doing what he can to ensure that everyone is healthy when the playoffs roll around.
“Focus on execution and cardiovascular work we do on a day-to-day basis and try to build that up at the right pace without overdoing it,” he said. “That’s been a fine line to walk, but one I think we’ve done pretty well up to this point. That’s going to continue, really, the first half of this season; the first month, first two months, however you want to look at it.
“We’re just going to have to be intelligent with ramping these guys up and doing enough work that our execution is at the level it needs to be and we’re continuing to get our legs under us. Like I said, it’s not going to be perfect. There’s going to be some ugly moments along the way. That’s just the nature of this quick turnaround.
“But at the end of the day we’re going to stay together, we’re going to keep grinding and I feel good about what we’ll be able to do on the court.”
The Lakers have 11 quality rotation players with Talen Horton-Tucker looking ready to take the next step. That should allow Vogel to manage all of his veterans’ minutes, which should help them stay healthy for another championship run.
Vogel unsure how Gasol and Harrell will be implemented defensively
One of the biggest challenges for the Lakers this season will be integrating new players. L.A. made two additions in the frontcourt in Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell that will change a lot of things for them defensively.
“I’m not exactly sure,” Vogel answered when asked how he would best mix in Gasol and Harrell defensively. “I’ve definitely seen some moments or stretches of our preseason games where I was very impressed with our connectivity.
“I’m hopeful that carries out to these first few games. You never really know early in the season, until you start playing the games that matter, where you’re at. I think these first five games will be a good barometer.”
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