Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel helped lead the franchise to its 17th NBA championship and is in good position to get them back to the promised land.
The Lakers added several talented players in the offseason while retaining some of their own key free agents, giving Vogel arguably more lineup flexibility than last year’s roster. However, the first problem he will have to solve is how hard he can push players ahead of the 2020-21 season tipping off December 22.
Training camp opened up earlier this week, but the Lakers aren’t holding their first team practice until Sunday. They start the preseason December 11 with a matchup against the L.A. Clippers.
As such, Vogel will be short on time to integrate the newest additions and he discussed how he will approach trying to get everyone up to speed. “Our first big challenge of the year is trying to strike that balance the right way,” he said.
“We want to make sure we’re easing guys in that didn’t have a normal offseason. The guys that re returning from playing in the championship last year with our team, we don’t want to overdo it early. But at the same time, the games are coming up very quickly, so we don’t want to ease in so much that we make them vulnerable to injury.
“We’re going to have to on a day-to-day basis try to strike that balance. Not overdo it early and make them vulnerable to injuries in camp, while still getting them ready so they’re not vulnerable when the games come around.”
Player safety has been an emphasis for Vogel and his recent comments are reminiscent of the ones he made prior to the Orlando bubble. The quick turnaround is not ideal, so Vogel will have his hands full trying to maintain that balance throughout the season.
Vogel says preparation is different from normal training camp
The truncated offseason schedule is chaotic for coaches like Vogel who thrive when they have time to prepare. As such, Vogel noted that this upcoming training camp and preseason is unlike anything he has seen.
“The whole thing is dramatically different,” he began. “I think it’s dramatically different league-wide, but in particular our team along with the Miami Heat, that played later than everybody else. The thing about the pandemic is most teams are not able to play the normal month of pickup games that everybody is used to coming into a camp.
“You get all the bumps and bruises and those things underway before camp even begins, then the intensity level increases when camp begins. Without that, again, we’re just going to have to keep a close eye on the ramp-up to getting these guys ready to play.
“We’ve got to get them moving with the training camp intensity, get them playing live basketball with training camp intensity, but we’ve got to probably do it in small doses early and just try to build it up as we get closer to the regular season.”
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