Everything has gone right for the Los Angeles Lakers to start the season. They have the best record in the NBA with 14 wins and two losses, which is tied for their best start since the 2008-09 season (the season they beat the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals). It’s all thanks to their two superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, some inspired play from veterans like Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard and, of course, the leadership and teachings of their new head coach, Frank Vogel.
But what’s going to happen if things go awry?
The Lakers are running like a well-oiled machine right now, but at some point in the grueling 82-game regular season, that machine is going to break down — even if it’s for only a few days. When it does, the team is confident they’ll be able to persevere.
During practice last week, Davis said the topic of adversity was brought up by Vogel. Davis also said it’s something James talked about at their first team meeting earlier this season. And while Davis is hoping it’s not soon, he also knows that a rough patch will come at some point, and he’s confident the Lakers are mature enough to get through it.
“We’ve got a lot of veteran guys who have been through tons of adversity throughout their career,” Davis said. “I feel like we have a veteran coaching staff as well who have been through it and will try to make sure that we stay ready for it.
“We’re not going to stay hot like this forever, and so whether it’s this road trip or later on this season, something is going to happen. Some adversity is going to hit where we might lose two or three in a row. And that’s not a time to panic. Coach tells us all the time ‘stay even-keeled. Don’t get too high on wins, or too low on losses. Just stay even-keeled and try to work through it.’”
Vogel is also of the mindset that the number of guys on the Lakers that have been there before will make the dry spells easier. However, he’s also confident in the culture the team has been building since the start of the season.
“We have intelligent, veteran guys,” Vogel said. “The tone and the stage has been set for working to achieve positive chemistry and togetherness throughout the whole season, through the ups and downs. It was the first thing we talked about at the beginning of camp. We will face adversity, but the expectation is to pull together when we face it.”
Granted, this is what Davis and Vogel are expected to say, but it’s not too hard to believe they will handle adversity well. The Lakers have five players on their roster that have won an NBA championship this decade, and a few other players that have seen it all like Howard, Troy Daniels and Jared Dudley.
All of those players are human, though, and are therefore prone to make mistakes, which is why it was so crucial for the Lakers to hire a veteran head coach like Vogel and a coaching staff with as much (if not more) experience to manage expectations throughout the season, so no one starts panicking when things inevitably get tough. From the sounds of it, the Lakers’ coaches have been successful at doing that so far.
It’s still really early on in the season, but the Lakers have done and said the right things. As long as they continue to do that, those habits will be harder to break once adversity does hit.