As the rest of the league got smaller (well, except for the New York Knicks), the Los Angeles Lakers got bigger this summer by adding Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and bringing back JaVale McGee.
While McGee is more of a lob threat than anything, Davis and Cousins like to operate in the post. as does LeBron James. It’s for that reason head coach Frank Vogel told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated that the Lakers will likely have the ball in the post a lot next season (via The Crossover podcast):
Mannix: You have played kind of supersized in Indiana with Roy Hibbert and David West, at times played a little bit smaller in Orlando with the personnel. And then with the Lakers, you’ve got some big bodies there. They bring in DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis is there. Do you see kind of a throwback to Indiana with how you try to play with your bigs or is it something a little bit different?
Vogel: It’s different. That approach was to try to be a power-post offense and pound it inside, you know, slow down the game a little bit in the halfcourt and play through the post. We’ll do that more here than I’ve done the last few years and more than the rest of the league does because of guys like DeMarcus, AD and LeBron. Those guys will get a lot of touches in there.
But I do think the game has changed even with post-offense where we want to create a model of movement out of the post and the shot being sort of the third and fourth option once the ball goes inside it that we want to generate movement and get guys cuts to the basket. I love what Golden State has done. As much as everyone talks about their pace and their break and their three-point shooting, their cutting is what I think a lot of people would say was their best attribute. And a lot of that action happened when the ball was in the post. So, we will take advantage of that with the guys that I mentioned. But it will be very different than the offensive approach at least that we had in Indiana.
The second part of the above quote should be music to Lakers fans’ ears.
While the Lakers could try and bully teams in the paint with their size, the biggest value in having guys that can operate in the post is the opportunities that can be created out of the post and luckily for Vogel, he has two of the most gifted post passers in the league in James and Cousins. Davis isn’t the best passer out of the post, but he can make the open pass. The same can be said of Kyle Kuzma, although his best role is probably out on the perimeter next season, assuming his shooting returns to form.
A lot has changed since the last time Vogel was on an NBA sideline, but it seems as though he’s been watching from a distance and learning what it takes to succeed in today’s league. With the personnel the Lakers have in place, there’s reason to be optimistic about Vogel’s tenure in Los Angeles.
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