Frank Vogel has always been known as a defensive-minded head coach from his time back with the Indiana Pacers all the way up to his championship run with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Since coming to L.A., Vogel has always had the Lakers at or near the top in the main defensive metrics and it was the catalyst to the team’s 2020 NBA Championship.
But this season has been a major struggle for Vogel’s Lakers as the team has struggled to get consistent stops that allow them to get out in transition and have also struggled to control the glass, giving teams numerous attempts at getting a basket.
The Lakers have looked better in recent contests, however, holding the opposition to 102 points or fewer in their last three victories and Vogel believes that his team is finally embracing the dirty work as part of their identity.
“Absolutely. Although I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I was concerned or need hope that we were gonna get there, or that we are gonna get there,” Vogel said. “We still have a long way to go to build the consistency we’re looking for, but you got a bunch of new guys coming into your culture, it takes time to get them up to speed with how we do everything. Everything down to coverages, to spacing concepts.”
With the Lakers bringing in so many new players this offseason it will always take some time for players to fully grasp the way Vogel does things, especially on defense. But a major issue for the Lakers has been the consistent effort being given by the Lakers and Vogel understands that issue is not just as a simple one.
“But the effort piece, and it’s easy to just say you guys aren’t playing hard enough, but the reality is you have to be direct and precise in terms of exactly what you’re talking about,” Vogel added. “You guys are not running the floor hard enough, you’re not sprinting back in transition, you’re not crashing the glass hard enough, you’re not screening and getting out of screens fast enough, you’re not cutting.
“All these things that just fall in the bucket of effort and playing harder than your opponent, you got to be precise with those things and you got to coach those things hard. And that’s what we’re doing with our group and we’re making progress. Still an imperfect game, but you’re asking about Bron, Bron is leading the charge in all that stuff.”
Having LeBron James leading the way is likely the best thing any coach can hope for and Vogel is undoubtedly ecstatic to have him. If LeBron is doing these kinds at age 36 then there is no reason for anyone else to not give maximum effort.
Vogel is all about the details and he seems to have identified these different areas as places where the Lakers must be better. He will give the Lakers the right plan of attack, it will simply be on the players themselves to execute.
Vogel says James is ‘finding joy through hustle
As Vogel said, James is leading the way for the Lakers when it comes to the effort and focus on dirty work and he had high praise for the Lakers’ leader after his performance against Orlando.
“He’s exemplifying, to find the right words, finding joy through hustle and how it’s really fun to pour it all out there on the floor and inspire your group. The effort that he’s playing with is inspiring our whole group. Our team is playing extremely hard and defending and running the floor and we’re making strides with playing extra-pass basketball, but we’re still not quite where we need to be yet. But LeBron is leading the charge in all those things and he was terrific again tonight.”
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