The Los Angeles Lakers are off to one of the absolute best starts in franchise history. They are doing so with a roster teeming with turnover, especially at the top. So, how is it that things have come together as quickly as they have? Frank Vogel says it’s pretty simple: The pieces just make sense.
“I mean, honestly I think their games fit. And when you’re a general manager and you’re putting together a team, it’s not just about a collection of talent, it’s putting together pieces that fit,” Vogel told reporters Sunday night after the Lakers topped Minnesota.
He credited Rob Pelinka and the front office for the team he gets to coach, and said it all starts at the top of the roster.
“Both on and off the basketball court (LeBron James and Anthony Davis’) chemistry has been seamless, I think to the surprise of all of us. We all thought there’d be a little bit more of a learning curve,” Vogel said.
“The two of them complement each other because they’re both guys that will make the right play, and they’re willing passers. On paper, the pieces fit.”
This is what separates Davis and James from other superstar pairings. Their games fit together so naturally that they can actually make each other better on the same play.
When James teamed up with Dwyane Wade and even Kyrie Irving, the best plays tended to feature one of them as the primary creator as the other one watched, albeit while being an incredible threat to finish the play.
Chris Bosh and Kevin Love were the third options on their teams, but actions with them and James were the source of creation for others coming out of those pick-and-rolls, making their fit with LeBron more natural, even if they were lesser players than Wade and Irving.
In this case, Davis is the natural fit and is probably the best player James has ever played with — making this pairing borderline unfair, quite frankly.
From there, as Vogel points out, the Lakers employ a bunch of role players who make sense around Davis and James for various reasons.
Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, Troy Daniels and Quinn Cook serve to space the floor when they’re out there.
Avery Bradley and Alex Caruso take care of perimeter defense.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope offers a little bit of both.
Rajon Rondo lightens the creativity load.
The JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard pairing makes it so Davis doesn’t have to play center and clean up anything that needs to be on either end.
There were plenty of legitimate questions about this team heading into this season. Hell, I asked a ton of them myself. But what went a little underrated while those questions were being asked was the impact of having two all-timers who fit seamlessly together and what it would allow throughout the rest of the roster.
It’s still fairly early in the season and there is plenty of work to be done, but as of right now, as Vogel says, Pelinka and the front office deserve a ton of credit for the roster as it stands, especially when you consider this was pieced together as a Plan B once Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers... who currently sit four games behind the Lakers for the conference and division.
As backup plans go, this team has been a pretty solid one.