On Friday morning, the first credible report questioning Frank Vogel’s job security surfaced, but at the team’s fourth shootaround of the season a few hours later, veteran guard Wayne Ellington made it clear that if anyone is blaming Vogel for the Lakers’ 10-10 start, he’s not among them.
“I think he’s been great,” Ellington said when asked what he’s thought about how adaptable Vogel has been this year. “We’ve had guys in and out of the lineup all year long so far, and that takes adaptation. He’s had to evolve with the guys we have out there in terms of personnel, and I think he’s done a good job of that.”
To Ellington’s point, the Lakers are among the five teams in the NBA who have lost the most games due to injury this season, according to the tracking data of independent injury analyst Jeff Stotts of In Street Clothes:
Following last night’s games, the league total for games lost to injury or illness in the NBA surpassed the 1,000 mark. OKC, SAC, MIN, POR, & NY have lost the fewest number of games while ORL, LAL, LAC, MIL, & IND have surrendered the most.— Jeff Stotts (@InStreetClothes) November 23, 2021
Vogel cited those same injury woes when explaining why he doesn’t think this team can fully evaluate itself just yet.
“I think it really just comes down to the injuries. We haven’t been whole so we haven’t really had a chance to see what our true vision is. That’s all going to come,” Vogel said. “Everybody’s going to have guys in and out, and as a coach you have to make sure you’re doing things scheme-wise that fit the guys that you have in the rotations. So that’s just where we’re at.”
Those injuries don’t fully account for the Lakers ranking just 24th in the league in offensive efficiency and 19th in defensive efficiency, according to NBA.com, but the team clearly has had to experiment a ton because of their health issues. Ellington thinks that as a result, it’s taking Vogel time to learn what exactly he has to work with, and what combinations work best.
“Just like we’re getting to know each other on the floor, I think Frank is getting to know us, too. Seeing our strengths, and seeing where he can use us at and plug us in,” Ellington said. “It hasn’t been easy... but as veterans I think we’re all poised and we’re all still navigating through, and we all know the best is yet to come.”
Obviously opinions can — and in the comments below, surely will — differ on Ellington and Vogel’s reasoning and conclusions there, but it’s also evident that Vogel at the very least hasn’t lost the entirety of the locker room yet. As we monitor his status moving forward, that’s worth noting.