The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a disappointing first-round exit one year after winning an NBA Championship. Head coach Frank Vogel was given a much different team to work with than the one he had in 2019-20, but one that arguably had much more talent.
However, injuries wound up being the defining factor in L.A.’s season, something Vogel had no control over.
As a coach, Vogel led the Lakers to the NBA’s top-rated defense for the first time in over 20 years. He did this with a rotation that was constantly in flux due to a revolving door of injuries. His 2020 Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Anthony Davis, missed 36 games.
What he struggled with was generating a lineup that could score without Davis and LeBron James, a tall task for any coach but one he couldn’t figure out regardless.
Following the end of the season, Vogel gave a self-evaluation on what he felt his second season as the head coach of the Lakers looked like. “As a coach with pride, I always feel like we should win every game. If you make every move right, it’s going to play out the right, it’s going to play out that way and you’re going to get that W.
“We didn’t win enough games, win our playoff games and handle the injuries and overcome them,” Vogel said. “It’s very difficult to overcome the injuries that we suffered, but not impossible and you always want to believe there’s something you could’ve done better. You just evaluate those things and that’s always been a part of who I am as a coach. I always look internally before pointing fingers at players, front office or team or anything like that. That’s just to me part of trying to be a winner and trying to be a leader of your team if you look internally at the things you are doing. That’ll always be a part of me. That’s where my heart and my mind is right now looking at ways we can be better with our group next year.”
Vogel pointing the finger at himself for the Lakers early exit — while noble — is unnecessary. L.A. was 22-6 when they suffered their first major injury and once Davis went down it simply didn’t stop. There are no coaches in the NBA who could have prevented these injuries or willed the team to a championship in spite of them.
The important thing to do now is to let everyone get healthy, bring back a roster with a bit more shooting, and things should work themselves out. Vogel continues to be one of the best defensive coaches in the NBA, now it’s just about getting him a bit more help offensively either with his staff or with the roster itself.
Vogel wants to be a Laker for life
Beyond wanting to improve as a coach, Vogel also is entering a contract year. However, an extension will hopefully be done before the season begins. Vogel opted to keep his negotiations private, but did give his stance on wanting to remain the team’s coach.
“I just prefer for those conversations to remain private. I did sign a three-year contract. Just completed year two and that’s where it’s at. Obviously, I love it here. I love this organization and hope to be a Laker for life, but all that stuff will play out in the right time and those conversations will remain private.”
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