Early on in the 2019 NBA offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Luke Walton and ended up landing on head coach Frank Vogel as their replacement.
Vogel returned to coaching after taking the 2018-19 NBA season off. He had most recently been the Orlando Magic head coach that won 29 and 25 games respectively in his two seasons.
After leaving that job, Vogel took a year off to get refocused on the game of basketball. It likely served as a reminder to Vogel that he is still a very good head coach and it’s easy to forget that he led an Indiana Pacers team with a young Paul George to five playoff appearances in six seasons.
Vogel spoke about what he did in his off-year to get back into the league and for him, that was continuing to spend time with it. He met with teams, watched games, and learned about many other systems, according to Steve Aschburner of NBA:
But it was also great from a professional standpoint and a standpoint of learning. I studied the game from a different lens, a different perspective. I watched games all season from home, without a horse in the race. And I visited with a lot of teams. A lot of practices. A lot of coaches meetings, both at the collegiate and the pro levels. You pick up a lot of things. You coach your own system for so many years, that’s all you ever know. To be able to step inside and see how others do it was very beneficial.
In addition to this, Vogel spent some time shifting his offensive approach, learning that three-pointers were the focus of every team’s approach, but in so many different ways:
Everybody’s kind of doing the same thing [3-point focus], but in many different ways. You know what I mean? A lot of it was surprising. Some of it I wouldn’t do, but some of it, I’d shift my approach. You pick up little nuggets here and there, a little terminology that can maybe strengthen your schemes or your offensive system. I think it will help me with this next step.
Vogel has been saying the right things all offseason and next month, he’ll get a chance to prove that it’s more than just talk. Luckily, he has the most talented roster of his entire career to work with.
If Vogel truly does shift his offensive approach — something that has really eluded him for much of his career — then he could easily be the X-factor in what gets this team to the 2020 NBA Finals.