When the Los Angeles Lakers revealed their assistant coaching staff — a group that will include Jason Kidd, Lionel Hollins, Phil Handy and several others — head coach Frank Vogel wasn’t shy about expressing his enthusiasm for the staff he and the team had put together.
“I could not be more excited about the group we’ve assembled,” Vogel said in the press release announcing the staff. “Each of these guys brings a unique set of skills and experiences that will greatly impact the success of our players, as we look to build a championship-caliber team.”
How exactly Vogel will delegate responsibilities among that staff that has him so psyched is still an open question, but he may have given some insight into how he’ll figure out who will do what during a recent appearance on “The Crossover NBA Show with Chris Mannix”:
Mannix: How do you, as a coach, delegate responsibility to your assistants? Some coaches like to go coordinator, here’s offense, here’s defense. Do you do things the same, or do you do things differently?
Vogel: I do it based on what staff I have in place. I try to get the best assistants, make sure they complement each other, and I try to just rely and draw on their skill sets. I’ve had defensive coordinators in the past, offensive coordinators, but I like the idea that the three bench coaches all do everything. It’s not just that you have one role on one side of the floor... Everybody’s got to be ready every night, approach the game like they’re a head coach.
“What I will do from an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator standpoint is that I will divvy up the post-game work, typically to two coaches. I do most of my post-game film work myself, based on myself watching the game, tagging clips and then arranging it. So my video guys don’t have it quite as hard as I had it back in the day, because I still do all my own edits for the most part, but I will make sure that there is a coach on the staff that has a defensive edit ready, and there’s a coach on the staff that has an offensive edit ready in the event that I need that for the next morning’s film.”
That (sort of) clears up one of the primary questions about this staff, which was which coach would be doing what. There were reports early on that Vogel would take a Phil Jackson-like approach to his staff, without naming a lead assistant, and as a result it seems that his three bench coaches will be equal in stature — in title, at least.
Such an approach sort of makes sense when looking at the skill sets on this staff, too. Among the three bench coaches — i.e., the coaches who will join Vogel on the front row of the bench during games — Kidd and Hollins are primarily known for being defense-focused, while Handy is mostly known for player development. It wouldn’t make sense to just name one of them an offensive coordinator without them proving themselves there first. There is some overlap in main talents here, and so it sort of lines up that Vogel will at least start the season with everyone doing everything before seeing who is best at what.
That’s not to say that these coaches’ titles will change if they differentiate themselves in one area, necessarily. And maybe Vogel really wants all of them to be able to do everything. At least now we know how the team will start the year in terms of responsibilities, and that we can’t lay credit or blame for success or failure at either end of the floor on one coach specifically, depending on how the Lakers do. Whether they sink or swim to start the year, they’ll do so as a unit, with everyone getting input.