Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is known for being one of the best defensive coaches in the NBA. However, he’s had a tendency to leave the offense to his stars, meaning LeBron James and Anthony Davis do a majority of the leg work for the Lakers when it comes to scoring and distributing.
Luckily, James is the perfect player to run an entire offense through, as he has always been a pass-first, attack-second type of player. Normally, this formula works extremely well as it did in 2020 when the Lakers won the championship. It hasn’t worked so far in the 2021 playoffs, as the Lakers simply cannot shoot.
Vogel gave his take on what went wrong in a blowout Game 5 loss to the Phoenix Suns, putting them down 3-2 in the series.
“We’re struggling to shoot the ball. Our shooters got to figure it out,” Vogel said. “We got to continue to work on our execution offensively. See the ball go in the basket and we didn’t defend well enough in the first half, so it was both sides of the ball. We’re looking for a spark from some of the other guys.”
Struggling to shoot the ball is a massive understatement, as they are shooting 41.3% from the field and 30.2% from three for the series, both significantly lower than their season averages.
James echoed a similar sentiment when he was asked about the flaws in the team’s offense. “We were getting some really good looks. Just not making shots. Literally just not making shots. It’s my job to get guys open looks, finding guys and putting guys in rhythm and also staying in rhythm myself, but we’re just not making many shots.
“We gonna trust the past like we’ve always done. Continue to move the ball, continue to share the ball, and shoot with confidence going into Game 6 on our home floor.”
Basketball can be a very complex game, but in this case, it’s very simple. If the Lakers don’t shoot the ball with more confidence and greater efficiency in Games 6 and 7, then they will go home with a first-round exit. If they can turn things around in a hurry, they may still have a chance to make a run.
James is going to do what he can to distribute and get his teammates open — and Anthony Davis is going to try and be healthy — but the team’s role players simply have to start making shots. Vogel and James know this, and so does the rest of the team, but they need to show an ability to improve starting in Game 6.
James discusses balance between distributing and attacking
The Lakers star spoke about his mindset when it comes to scoring and shooting or distributing to teammates. “I play the game the right way no matter the circumstances,” James said. “Getting guys open looks when I draw two or three. If I’m in one-on-one coverage and I feel like I got a lane or an angle to be able to take it as well, but I don’t predetermine anything that I’m going to do.
“Never played the game that way. It’s all about read and react and living with the results. Obviously the results tonight wasn’t to what I would like it to be, but I’ll learn from that and move on to Thursday.”
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