Frank Vogel fired from Lakers because of botched Westbrook plans

Frank Vogel fired from Lakers because of botched Westbrook plans

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Lakers fired Frank Vogel due to his inability to successfully work Russell Westbrook into the team’s game plans. They wanted Westbrook to play a more productive role in the Lakers’ offensive schemes. And after failing to qualify for the play-in tournament and maximize the guard, the head coach was canned.

“When the decision was made to fire Vogel, sources say his handling and the inability to find a way to make him a more productive part of the program were among the factors that played a big part,” explained Amick.

“There was a strong sense that it was on Vogel to make the Westbrook experiment work, and the fact that it didn’t, led to questions about whether Westbrook had been put in position to succeed. That sure smells like the hope of a Russ revival to me.”

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Furthermore, Russell Westbrook is a better player when he is the center of attention. Can the nine-time All-Star win a championship on a team with other super stars? That remains to be seen. The guard thrives when his coach allows isolation tactics. In addition to losing Frank Vogel, Westbrook could be next.

For the 2016-17 season, the Thunder were without Kevin Durant for the first time since the 2006-07 season. Of course, Durant signed with the Warriors during the offseason. Despite losing such a talented star, Westbrook went on to have statistically the best season of his NBA career.

In a total of 81 games played, he averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game. On Apr. 9, 2017, Westbrook broke Oscar Robertson’s record for the most triple-doubles earned in a single season (42). To top it off, he won his first and only MVP award.

Can Russell Westbrook win without Durant and Harden?

While the guard did average 25.4 points per game in the following 2017-18 season, the last time Westbrook averaged at last 25 points each game was during the 2019-20 season with the Rockets. And James Harden was again one of his teammates.

So, if Westbrook can finish with career-high performances alongside Durant and Harden, why not with Anthony Davis and LeBron James under Frank Vogel? Well, injuries were one of the go-to points mentioned by Lakers fans. LeBron dealt with ankle and knee injuries. Not to mention, he received a one-game suspension for elbowing Pistons’ center Isaiah Stewart in the face.

Moreover, Anthony Davis had to overcome groin, knee, ankle and foot injuries these last few seasons, too. But even then, if Westbrook is at his best when he’s the lone superstar, he should have dominated the court while Davis and/or James were out. That never really happened. He was especially not as aggressive.

Are Westbrook’s best performances behind him?

After playing in 78 regular season games with the Lakers, Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game. His offensive production hasn’t been this low since the Thunder’s 2009-10 season. The energetic, triple-double juggernaut from previous seasons disappeared. Some of this can be blamed on Frank Vogel. Though, a player still has to meet his coach halfway.

Therefore, aside from a team chemistry issue, could it be that Westbrook is just past his prime? Before his trade to the Lakers, the two-time scoring champion averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists with the Wizards in the 2020-21 season. For that reason, maybe the 2021-22 season was just a fluke. Either way, his best performances were with the Thunder.

Based on a number of factors, it seems that Westbrook was never a good fit for Los Angeles. Additionally, Frank Vogel is not a bad coach. Most Pacers fans would probably agree with this statement. Speaking of the Pacers, one source linked the 14th-year veteran to the organization a couple of days ago. However, an NBA insider called a Lakers-Pacers Westbrook trade “too good to be true.”

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