Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has three of the most talented players in the NBA at his disposal in LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. But figuring out the best players to put beside them has been a bit of a struggle, no doubt made even more difficult with the injuries that have plagued the Lakers all season long.
There are a number of different possibilities for Vogel with each player offering different strengths and weaknesses. Recently it has been Talen Horton-Tucker and Avery Bradley who have gotten the nod in the starting lineup, but Malik Monk, Wayne Ellington, Carmelo Anthony and Austin Reaves have all had their moments this season too. Not to mention Trevor Ariza could be returning soon as well and Kendrick Nunn will hopefully be joining the team at some point in 2022.
As far as what he is looking for in those role players, Vogel does have a basic standard of what he is looking for, but also recognizes that each player’s strength is different as well.
“The first thing that comes to mind is defense and shooting,” Vogel said ahead of the team’s victory over the Orlando Magic. “Obviously, we want everybody to play to their own individual strengths, so Wayne [Ellington] is going to have a more green light than some of the other guys. Talen is going to have more of a green light to attack the basket than some of the other guys. Avery is going to have more of a green light to pressure the basketball than some of the other guys.
“Obviously, Malik [Monk] too. Down the line, everybody just has to play to their strengths to support Russ, Bron and AD. Those perimeter spots around them have to play with great effort, they have to defend and carry their own weight on the defensive side of the ball, and they’ve got to knock down open shots or make plays on long closeouts. Those three guys are going to force double teams. You’ve got to make plays out of those.”
As Vogel noted, those three players are going to attract a lot of attention and whoever else is on the court has to make the opposition pay. Whether it is by hitting open shots, moving off the ball or attacking the rim themselves, the role players must force the defense to account for them in addition to holding their own defensively.
Doing both has been the issue for the Lakers unfortunately as the defensive-minded players have struggled to hit shots while the offense-first guys have struggled to keep up defensively. If the Lakers can get consistent effort and execution from their role players it raises their ceiling exponentially, which is what Vogel is looking for.
Bradley thankful for Vogel, Lakers coaching staff showing confidence in him
Avery Bradley may have only been signed right before the season began, but he has been a big part of the Lakers so far this year and he is thankful for Vogel having that kind of confidence in him.
“It means a lot,” Bradley said recently. “Coach [Vogel] is a big part of my success here. Not only him, but the entire coaching staff being able to give me that confidence to go out there and perform on both ends of the floor.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!