When the Los Angeles Lakers hired head coach Frank Vogel, it became clear that no matter who was on the roster, they would have a defense-first identity.
Throughout Vogel’s career, that’s the way it’s always been. In his seasons with the Indiana Pacers, they finished top-10 in defensive rating every season, including back-to-back seasons taking the top spot in the NBA.
Once the Lakers put together their final roster, many were concerned about the defensive ceiling of the team. As a team whose identity is very centered around forwards and centers, perimeter defense looked like it might be an issue with the exception of Avery Bradley, Danny Green, and sometimes Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
However, Vogel keeps his mindset the same regardless of the team. He plans on making sure the Lakers play with the same physical style he’s taught to his other teams.
“You’re coming to play L.A. Lakers — you’re going to get hit. You’re going to get smashed in the mouth,” Vogel said.
And while this is similar to what former head coach Luke Walton always preached, it feels like Vogel has the experience to really implement a strong system.
Vogel also talked about how the team’s identity will differ from what everyone thinks. What he means by this is that although the Lakers have a ton of weapons on offense, it’ll be defense where they make their money.
“We got a lot of firepower offensively, but establish that defensive mindset of playing hard and playing tenacious and being physical,” Vogel said of the team’s mindset. “And on offensively, just beginning to get us organized and just talking about the importance of playing for each other.”
It seems that Vogel is entering October preaching two major things: defense and teamwork. And for the team they have, those are the perfect things to preach.
The Lakers are home to two of the league’s most unselfish All-Star players with LeBron James averaging the most assists of anyone currently in the top-10 of ESPN’s NBA rank.
Having these unselfish All-Star players will make the offense run smoothly regardless as the Lakers also host to a ton of high IQ basketball players. This means that once the team learns to play defense together, they could become really hard to beat and Vogel is instilling that mindset early and often as they prepare for the 2019-20 NBA season.