It was pretty clear very early on that the Los Angeles Lakers wanted to set a tone as they opened their preseason with a win against the Golden State Warriors. They started with an 11-0 run and never conceded the lead en route to, well, a rout.
After the game, Frank Vogel was asked about how the team looked, and he says the tone they set started well before tipoff (via Lakers.com):
“We’ve been locked in. We tried to set a tone at the beginning of training camp that there is going to be a seriousness to our business, and we’re going to get after it each day and lock in to what has to happen, and our leaders have led the charge with regard to our mentality and our mindset with that, and it showed up tonight.”
It honestly makes sense that the Lakers, from the top of the organization on down, would want to reestablish their relevance as more than a laughingstock as quickly as possible. Remember, they’re coming off a season where LeBron James failed to make the postseason, and the president of basketball operations resigned without warning before the regular season was even over, prompting months of speculation about his replacement only to see Rob Pelinka (whom Johnson accused of backstabbing) and a couple Rambii promoted.
I’d want that taste out of my mouth, too.
Vogel went on to explain what it is about this particular team that allows for such a tone to be set:
“There’s always little things to learn about every player, but this group, you don’t know how they’re going to fit together. And we’re going to have peaks and valleys of course, but their willingness to understand the value in really coming together and trying to be a team-first team has been done at a really high level, and our guys are locked in to this point. We’ve got a long way to go obviously, but so far so good.”
Say what you will about the process of watching youth develop, but this is a benefit of having such a veteran team — and the chemistry has been evident beyond even just the first game. It isn’t even just about their combined experience in the NBA, but also about them being closer in age to each other, and thus able to relate to one another better across the roster. James can just relate better to guys like Danny Green than he ever could Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.
It’s unfortunate that’s the case, as it would’ve been fun to watch that group grow, but if the result of that trade-off is getting to watch Anthony Davis and James play more together like they did over the weekend, well, you just have to make that trade.