It appears the situation with the Los Angeles Lakers last season under head coach Luke Walton may have been tenser than it even appeared on the surface. While there was plenty of drama and speculation that Walton and LeBron James were struggling to coexist, a bit of fuel was recently added to that fire.
As the Lakers prepare for the Frank Vogel era, many are looking back at what life was like under Walton. According to The Athletic’s Joe Vardon, the lack of structure in Walton’s offense and the forced shots by younger teammates left LeBron James “discouraged.”
Walton explicitly did not set up the Lakers’ offense this way. In Walton’s offense, any of four ballhandlers on the court could get it and go. If the ball made it to LeBron’s hands, great. If not, so be it. LeBron took over the offense on his own, but there was no “structure.” He didn’t love it. Sources close to LeBron said that the lack of structure on offense, and the bad, forced shots some of his younger teammates took, discouraged him.
While that’s obviously concerning, Vardon pointed out a quote from Vogel about the scheme for LeBron, and it’s a statement which should be music to the ears of the Lakers star. Per The Athletic, Vogel said that “generally, we are looking to bring more structure to what we’re doing.”
Frank Vogel Addresses Lakers’ Plan to Rebuild
A number of things stood out from Vogel’s introductory press conference, but one specifically related was noteworthy relating to his plan for the Lakers. As team reporter Mike Trudell quoted, the coach pointed to the 3-point line and analytics.
Asked Frank Vogel if his approach has evolved from Indiana days through Orlando: “There’s been a major evolution stylistically about the way I want to play.” He cited analytics and the 3-point line as changes; still believes defending inside at the rim to out is key.
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Our own Lakers analyst Anthony Koon went on to detail Vogel’s comments about the emphasis and focus on interior defense.
Vogel made a point to say that he wanted to emphasize interior defense as he feels that is still the key to victory in the NBA (shout out Roy Hibbert on his Pacers teams) and the Lakers are in desperate need of a rim protector at the moment. Given how much weight Vogel puts into this, expect the Lakers to look for a springy rim-protector in the draft or free agency.
While it’ll be interesting to see how the new offense for the Lakers looks, there is still plenty of questions about which players will be on the roster during the 2019-20 season. Regardless, it seems safe to say that the more structure, the better when it comes to James.
Lakers’ 2019-20 Roster Outlook
With the Lakers landing the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the topic of whether the team will trade the selection or keep it is picking up steam. Obviously, Los Angeles could pick up a player capable of making a strong impact immediately, but there should be plenty of interest in a potential trade package which includes the selection as well.
If the New Orleans Pelicans opt to come around on the idea of trading Anthony Davis to the Lakers, then Vogel’s roster in year one with the team will look far different than it currently does. But if not, the front office could target a few other possible trade options or even shift their attention primarily to signing a max free agent and then adding a top rookie.
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