The Los Angeles Lakers play their first meaningful game since March on Thursday night, when they take on the L.A. Clippers. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has been open about the progress of the team throughout their time in the Walt Disney World bubble, and is still concentrated on ensuring the team steadily improves as they progress toward the playoffs.
The Lakers will have a little bit more time than other teams to get it together, as their spot in the Western Conference is all but locked up. In order to clinch the No. 1 seed, they’ll need to go just 3-5 in the seeding games.
Considering they went 2-1 in scrimmages despite going 16 players deep, winning three with a more concise rotation shouldn’t be an issue.
Vogel shed some light on the last two weeks of practicing and scrimmages, saying that the team is committed and focused on building good habits. “For us it’s just been about our process and concentrating on the work,” he said.
“It’s difficult to establish the habits that lead to winning basketball, our discipline in doing things the right way over and over again, to the point where they become a habit.”
Vogel believes the team is still a work in progress. However, he’s happy with where things are at currently and having 16 of his 17 players available. “You look around at some of the other teams that have had guys out, or just joining the bubble, half squads and all those types of things, I feel good we have all our guys here except for Rondo,” Vogel noted.
“We’re going to need these eight seeding games to really try to be a finished product going into the playoffs, and we’re probably still not going to be a finished product going into the playoffs. We’ll be a work in progress. Every team is going through the same thing we are. I’m happy to be where we’re at with our guys.
“We just have a ton of habits we’ve got to become more disciplined in doing. That’s a thing that develops over the course of a season.
“Everything from our transition defense to our box-out habits, offensive spacing, screening techniques. All those types of things factor into winning basketball. We’re doing them at a decent level. I’m not displeased with where we’re at, but certainly need to continue to tighten the screws.”
It seems as though the team is ready to be competitive in their seeding games, but may not be at 100% until the playoffs roll around in mid-August.
It was apparent in the scrimmages that, while the team still has the same talent and swagger, some things need to be worked on. The Lakers is not the finished product, but it appears to be a better starting place than many other teams in the bubble.
Vogel planning to use depth in seeding games
Because the Lakers is still a work in progress, it stands to reason that the rotation would not be perfectly set as well. While things may tighten up in the next phase of games, Vogel has maintained he plans on using the entire roster.
“Obviously we’ll base it on a game-by-game basis. The goal of these seeding games is to get us to go into the playoffs, just like it would be for the final eight games of a normal regular season, go into the playoffs as healthy and as sharp as we can be,” he said.
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