The Los Angeles Lakers have made a number of moves during the 2019 NBA offseason and have championship aspirations because of it.
Thanks to everything that happened in free agency, one of the most important has now flown under the radar and that is the change in head coach from Luke Walton to Frank Vogel.
Though Vogel wasn’t the most exciting name available and not even the team’s first choice, he is more than qualified. He had a ton of success as the Indiana Pacers head coach, leading them to five playoff appearances in seven seasons — including two trips to the Eastern Conference Finals.
One major question with Vogel involves his style of play as his teams have tended to be more slow-paced, but that may change with the Lakers. Vogel spoke with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated and said he actually agrees with a lot of what Walton tried to implement during the 2018-19 NBA season, but has some changes he plans on making:
“The style of play is an important piece of this,” Vogel said. “I actually did not disagree with a lot of the things that Luke Walton did stylistically in terms of playing with pace, really attacking the basket and being the one of the leading free throws shooting teams. And they worked hard on the defensive end. But to me it was about putting LeBron James in positions to try to play with space the way Giannis Antetokounmpo did with Brook Lopez being added as a three-point shooter, with what Kawhi Leonard was able to have in Toronto with Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka at the center position.”
This will be something to watch going into the 2019-20 season. The Lakers were top-10 in pace each season under Walton while Vogel has never had a team be higher than 11th in pace. Vogel should be able to help shore up the defensive end as that has been his forte, but how much he can do on that end with this Lakers roster is a question as well.
One thing that has improved that Vogel pointed to is the shooting surrounding LeBron James. Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and Kyle Kuzma are all capable shooting centers/power forwards who can provide that spacing Vogel is talking about.
What’s best about this Lakers roster is the ability to play any style they want. The team should have the ability to go big or small, play with pace or slow it down, and have shooting and defensive specialists to help Vogel achieve whatever his goals are for that particular game.