Over the last few years while Luke Walton tried to develop as a head coach, one very consistent frustration was the unclear nature of what the Los Angeles Lakers offense was trying to accomplish — especially in terms of the types of shots it was trying to create.
When newly hired head coach Frank Vogel was asked about what he’s hoping to see from the offense he’s going to implement this season in a sit-down interview with Lakers.com, Vogel got right down to the nitty gritty, but started with a much broader focus:
“My style of coaching and the things that I think are important to creating a winning program start with organizational-wide togetherness. Everybody has got to be pulling in the same direction. When that happens, the togetherness on the court is able to get achieved. When you’ve got talented guys working together you can accomplish anything.”
Unity has been a theme right from the get-go with Vogel. Now, that message was somewhat weakened as he spoke to that point while Jeanie Buss was noticeably absent from his introductory press conference, but that isn’t something he can control. To his point, though, the Lakers need to get the same page, and as soon as possible.
Togetherness is great so long as everyone understands what the end goal might be. To answer this, Vogel spoke specifically about the types of shots he prioritizes:
”I really believe in the value of the 3-point shot, and really what the analytics people would say the priority should be in your offensive approach. Meaning that the value of the free throw is higher than the rim two, which is higher than the corner three, which is higher than the arc three, which is higher than the mid-range shot.
“But within all of that the open shot takes precedent. We’re going to have a system in which we minimize the amount of guarded shots that we take, and I think there is going to be a big value in enhancing the perimeter shooting that we put around arguably the greatest drive-and-kick player that has ever played the game.
“These are all things that we believe that we can get accomplished very, very soon and that could help us have one hell of a bounce-back year.”
Come back to me in five minutes. Just let me enjoy this. Thanks.
Ah, that was nice.
Look, what coaches preach in settings like this often fall by the wayside as variable beyond their control take hold. But this is a noticeably different starting place even when compared to when Walton was introduced.
Remember, when the Lakers hired Walton, he was the top candidate on the market and was heading into his first head coaching opportunity. There was still a ton that he had to learn if he was to live up to his potential.
Vogel is different in the sense that he has already had opportunities and failed — and spent a year learning just in case this opportunity came along. He’s likely on his last chance as an NBA head coach and knows heading into this that he has to make this work. There are obviously scenarios in which Walton figures everything out and lives up to his potential without falling on his face. Walton is in Sacramento, though, wiping the dust off himself, having fallen on his face.
Neither Vogel or the Lakers have time to mess around here, and hearing him talk about something so specific about shot type in such detail is refreshing. Maybe this is just the honeymoon period where Vogel says all the right things and fans cling to those quotes because there is precious little else to look to for optimism, but you know what, I’ll enjoy this for what it is right now.