LeBron James and Anthony Davis are really good at basketball. It doesn’t take an NBA-level coach to realize that, but it’s probably safe to say that Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is more thankful for that fact than most.
Vogel has coached talented teams before to be sure, but he also had to coach the Orlando Magic, so it’s not like things have been all butterflies and rainbows. But even his good rosters with the Indiana Pacers never had players on James and Davis’ level, and if you don’t agree with that take, take it up with Vogel, because he told Steve Aschburner of NBA.com that himself:
SA: How different are LeBron and AD from players you’ve coached in the past?
FV: Talent-wise, they’re the two best players I’ll ever have had the opportunity to coach. That brings a lot of fun, a lot of excitement to what we’re able to do on the court. It brings a lot of challenges too. You have to make sure you’re managing them the right way and putting them in the right positions to feel good about their roles and what’s happening around them. There are challenges involved with that. So I’m looking forward to how that all is going to play out.
Damn, the shade at Paul George is real, although to be fair a) Vogel probably did not intend his words to be taken like that and b) he wouldn’t be wrong even if he did. George is a really, really good player — and the only player Vogel has coached before James and Davis that even has anything resembling an argument here — but he still can’t touch the upper-end of where most consider James and Davis potential output.
But regardless of what one thinks of George, the point at hand is that Vogel has an incredible level of talent in his top-two players. And with talent like that comes expectations, especially when one of those talents’ name is LeBron James. Fair or not, there is a perception that James is not good for his coaches’ job security, but Vogel doesn’t seem overly worried about that:
SA: LeBron and his coaches have been a storyline at each of his stops, and not always in a pleasant way. What do you anticipate?
FV: I only know how he’s been with me. That’s the only measuring stick I’m going to use. I’m not going to look at how it’s been with his past coaches. That really doesn’t concern me. I want to shape my own opinion of him as a person and one of the greatest ever. I’m going to take my approach and work together with him to hopefully do something special.
Vogel has said basically all the right things since being hired, and at the very least has a chance to be a solid coach. If he, James and Davis can develop a strong partnership, then the three of them could be the triumvirate that’s remembered for steering the Lakers back to contention. If they can’t, Vogel won’t be coaching his best players ever for long.