The LA Lakers have had an excellent start to the season, dispelling all preseason doubters about the championship quality of the roster. It hasn’t just been the players that have made a pundits swallow their words, the impact of head coach Frank Vogel has been central to the Lakers’ transformation.
Over this season he’s shown the value of communicating a clear defensive plan to his players. The Lakers defense has been one of the biggest turnarounds from last season. This season you’ll find the Lakers close to the top of many defensive stats. This is thanks to Vogels impact.
For those who are familiar with Frank Vogel as a coach, will know that defence is possibly his biggest strength. After winning Western Conference Manager of the Month for October and November, its safe to say he deserves all the credit he has received thus far in his Lakers tenure.
Hiring of Vogel
Vogel wasn’t greeted with mass fanfare and positive public sentiment when his appointment was made. The Lakers have been on the longest playoff drought in the franchise’s history and fans have been crying out for a championship winning coach.
Vogel had performed excellently as the head coach of the Pacers. He made them one of the strongest defensive teams in the NBA, while taking them to multiple playoff appearances. As a young coach, his stock was on the rise.
His next stop would be in Orlando where he took charge of the Magic for two seasons. These seasons were disappointing as the Magic failed to make the playoffs in both seasons. With that being the last experience on his CV, many Lakers fans were sceptical when his name entered the fray for the Lakers job.
It’s public knowledge that Vogel wasn’t the Lakers first choice, but in hindsight they can only be happy to have gone with him. He has made an immediate impact with the results on course for one of their best NBA seasons ever.
Improvements on defense
The Lakers players have responded well to Vogels instructions and clearly trust him. LeBron James has indicated that Vogel has helped him with his defensive positioning. Statistically, the Lakers are second in the NBA for points allowed and top the league in defensive blocks.
It’s credit to Vogel and his coaching staff that the players are so well drilled so early in the season. Being strong on defense is what helps to grind out victories. A number of the Lakers games this season have been won by fine margins. Limiting the opposition is the difference between a win and a loss in the NBA, and ultimately the playoffs.
The Lakers have one of the most star-studded teams. With big egos in the dressing room, Vogel has had to show he has the leadership capabilities to bring out the best in his stars. The evidence of this season shows that Vogel is getting the right, week after week.
Firstly, the partnership of LeBron James and Anthony Davis looks like the duo have played together for years. There is a chemistry between the too which looks healthy and constructive. James looks happy to setup Davis, and Davis looks happy to lean on James. If James and Davis continue to develop their chemistry, it could turn into a championship winning season for the Lakers.
Another player who Vogel can take credit for is Dwight Howard. Many fans have forgotten how good Dwight Howard actually is. Most of the headlines have been focussed on his attitude and dressing room influence, which was seemingly often times negative.
Not only that, but the Lakers fans will remember him for his ill-fated 2012-2013 season. He clashed with Kobe Bryant and left the team at the end of the season. When his signing was announced, many Lakers fans were unsure about how they felt about it. Two months into the season and Howard has probably won over ever Lakers fan with his performances and attitude.
Vogel needs to take a certain level of credit for Howard’s attitude and performances this season. Howard is one of several All Defensive players on the Lakers roster this season. They are the perfect players for Vogels tactics, and are clearly bearing fruit this season.
Can Vogel win a championship?
The Lakers look a certainty to break their playoff drought this season. If that is the case, Vogel can see this season as a success. With their early season form, the Lakers fans will be wondering if this is a championship season. At the moment, you would think it is certainly possible.
Vogel has been in two Conference Finals, but has never progressed beyond that point. With the Lakers in form, there is a chance he could do it this season. He has players, like James and Green, who have won the NBA championship before. Their experience could fill in any gaps in the strategy for the playoffs.
Vogel clearly has the respect of the players, and thanks to the results, the respect of the Lakers fanbase. If he can go all the way with the Lakers this season, he could be adopted as a Lakers legend.