Head coach Frank Vogel has been under a significant amount of pressure in 2021-22 with the Los Angeles Lakers failing to live up to the expectations with which they entered the season.
The Lakers seemed to have stocked up on talent, roster depth, and star power in the offseason, boasting a team whose players combined for the most All-Star appearances in NBA history with 57. Also, Russell Westbrook teamed up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis to create the league’s newest Big 3.
But with under 10 games left in the regular season, the Lakers hang on by a thread to the last Play-In Tournament spot after months marred by injuries, embarrassing losses, and a lack of effort.
Poor results appeared to have put Vogel’s future to question earlier in 2022, but the head coach weathered the storm and kept his job. Still, he admits this has been the most difficult season of his career.
“Yeah, I would say probably,” Vogel says. “Just because of the expectations that we’ve had. We’ve had too many really difficult nights and I think there’s an element of being a part of managing LeBron’s legacy for these final years of his career. I want to just give him the best opportunity to have team success throughout that.
“So we haven’t won at the level that we wanted to. It’s been challenging and the losses have been heavier, but we’ve been able to continue to mend and rebuild our team’s psyche and keep a belief in what we can be.”
Vogel adds he is “his own biggest critic,” closely evaluating his work after each game — and if they end up in a loss, grading himself even harder.
“How many minutes each guy played, did I overplay guys, did I underplay guys, did we have the right schemes in place, did we adjust well enough when things were hurting us, what offensive sets we were getting in, and what kind of actions, what kind of poor defenders are we involving in the offensive attack,” he says.
“I evaluate all of it and I’m my own biggest critic and that’s what, to me, has led me to be a successful coach in this league. So these losses are hard, but the process is good and the process is healthy and strong. for improvement and having a figure-it-out mindset.”
Vogel hopes L.A. can get a win against Mavericks despite LeBron James’ injury
NBA gods keep throwing hurdles the Lakers and Vogel’s way until the very end of the season, as LeBron James rolled his ankle in the recent loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. But the head coach hopes L.A. can still get a good result in the Wednesday matchup against the Dallas Mavericks.
“Obviously, this last injury hurts [the belief], but we had a good day today,” Vogel said.
“We came in and got really positive feedback and work on our film session. We had a live practice, which we haven’t had in quite some time, and hopefully, we can still get a W tomorrow and finish strong.”
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