Last week, the Los Angeles Lakers made the hiring of their new head coach, Frank Vogel, official and since then, he’s been in the film room studying up on his new roster, which currently consists of just eight players: Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones and, of course, LeBron James.
While there’s a possibility Vogel’s roster will look entirely different by the start of next season, he seems to be content with the foundation the Lakers have in place. In a video posted by the team’s official Twitter account on Friday, Vogel gave his first impressions of his new roster and he had a ton of glowing things to say about the team’s young core and James, who his Indiana Pacers battled with for the greater half of this decade.
“I really enjoy the process of studying the roster and formulating a plan.”— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 24, 2019
Frank Vogel shares his first impressions of the young core and LeBron James. pic.twitter.com/ZmaO7k86z8
Below are his thoughts on Kuzma, Ball, Ingram, Hart and James:
“Kyle Kuzma has absolutely hit it out of the park in his first two years in this league. There was some questions marks — he was drafted pretty low in the first round — and a lot of people were upset that they missed on him. Another guy that can dribble, pass, shoot and guard. What he does on the offensive end, you don’t see that from a second year player — you just don’t. He’s very very polished and sky’s the limit for him.”
“One of the most unique players I’ve ever studied. His ability, or his strength, of his game is his vision and willingness to pass the basketball, to hot potato it to other teammates. It just falls in with how our want our whole team to play, so I’m really excited about what he can mean to us.”
“The sky’s the limit for what he can be. The first thing that sticks out is how young he is and what he’s already accomplished in his very young life. He’s got all the skills in the world, physically gifted with his length and athleticism. Like any young player, they have to learn all the young habits that go into playing winning basketball and I look forward to working with Brandon on that stuff.”
“Definitely the toughest piece stands out with Josh Hart, but the versatility. As a coach, you want as many guys that can dribble, pass, shoot and guard as you can, and he checks off all the boxes. No real flaws to his game and he’s going to be a valuable piece to what we do.”
“In terms of what’s different about LeBron James now versus then is players like that grow throughout their career. They develop a wisdom on the basketball court where everything is a little slower for them mentally than it is for everyone else who’s speeding up and frenetic, and you can see that with his game. At this point in his career, he just recognizes things before they even happen and is a step above everyone else. His shot-making has really grown. It’s probably much stronger now than it was in Miami in terms of shooting with range and he’s going to poised from a great bounce-back year.”
Does Vogel’s endorsement of the existing roster make it any more or less likely that players will be traded this summer? Probably not, but it shows that he has a good idea of what he has to work with.
Now, it’s up to the front office to go out and get Vogel the complementary pieces he needs to compete with the current roster. They were unsuccessful at building a team around James last summer, but thankfully all of the deals they handed out last summer (sans James) were one-year deals and they’ll have roughly $32.5 to fill out their roster again this summer.
If the Lakers can learn from the mistakes they made in free agency last year, sky’s the limit for Vogel and his team.