Frank Vogel offers up effusive praise of just about anything (even some things that absolutely don’t deserve praise), so suffice it to say when given a player who does deserve a compliment or few, Vogel really brings the heat.
Anthony Davis is a true two-way superstar capable of things 99.99999999999999998% of the world’s human beings simply couldn’t dream of doing on a basketball court. Vogel started by talking about the ways Davis can impact the game defensively.
“He just covers so much ground on defense that he can be that rim protector when the ball comes to the basket, but when the ball spreads out on the perimeter, he might be our best containment on the team too. He’s elite in that regard,” Vogel told reporters after the Lakers’ win over the Warriors Monday.
Davis’ defense is what most people think of when they consider how talented he is. He’s one of maybe three people who can singlehandedly throw a wrench in the strategy of pace and space, thanks to how big he is and how well he moves his feet.
Offensively, though, is where Vogel really wanted it known how easy Davis makes his life.
“His shot-making is ridiculous. When we put him in the right spots, you can literally use him anywhere offensively. Rolling to the basket, in the post, at the elbow, at the 3-point line, attacking closeouts, handling in the open court. When you have somebody that’s just impacting the game on both ends of the floor like that, it just really moves the needle,” Vogel said, a happy tear streaming down his cheek*.
(*: ok maybe this didn’t happen, but you believed me)
Vogel will need Davis to do all those things consistently given how few true creators the Lakers have on their roster. Really, in terms of players who have carried the burden on good teams as primary creators, it’s basically LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, and the latter is about as washed as any player in the NBA. So all the various ways Vogel is considering using Davis will come in handy.
It might be for that reason even Vogel admitted there’s plenty of work to be done.
”I think we still have a long way to go just to make sure that everybody is comfortable. This preseason has been a challenge with the China trip,” Vogel said, alluding also to the amount of turnover across the roster. “So we still got a ways to go, but he’s a terrific player, so guys seem to blend in pretty easily and get comfortable pretty quickly.”
Much has been made about the number of star-studded duos across the NBA this season, and for good reason. But one thing that can’t be overstated is how well the Lakers’ combination of Davis and James fits alongside each other compared to the others. Add that to all the things Vogel points out about Davis, and his job is made pretty easy — even when factoring in the insane expectations that come with coaching a Lakers team with this much talent.
But that’s a good problem to have, so if you ask Vogel — with his burgeoning history of hyperbole — he’d probably tell you he’s the luckiest man alive.