Frank Vogel has been a lightning rod for criticism Lakers fans this season. An easy scapegoat given his position, much of the blame of the Lakers struggles has fallen at his feet. Thatt’s the nature of being a head coach in any league or any sport, and Vogel’s situation is no different in that respect.
But while Vogel is not blameless for how poorly this season has gone, the degree to which he’s been criticized is a bit much at times. Still, Vogel himself is aware of his shortcomings, and spoke about how he evaluates his performance on a game-by-game basis after practice on Monday.
“I grade myself on everything, every game,” Vogel said. “And obviously harder when we lose. How many minutes each guy played, did I overplay guys? Did I underplay guys? Did we have the right schemes in place? Did we adjust well enough when things were hurting us? What offensive sets are we getting in, and what kind of poor defenders are we involving in (our) offensive attack?
“I evaluate all of it, and I’m my own biggest critic, and that’s what to me has led me to be a successful coach in this league. So these losses are hard, but the process is good. The process is healthy and strong, (both) for improvement and having a figure-it-out mindset.”
Vogel has gotten things wrong throughout this season, perhaps none more so than his insistence on a big lineup with Anthony Davis and DeAndre Jordan or Dwight Howard early in the season, even as it was not working. A general lack of consistency when it comes to starting lineups has also led to a lack of familiarity within rotations, and hasn’t allowed the team’s players to get into any sort of regular rhythm.
At the same time, Vogel has been dealt a remarkably difficult hand to play with. It’s hard to imagine any coach getting much out of a roster built specifically against their strengths as a tactician, and the way this Lakers team is devoid of virtually any plus defenders outside of Davis certainly didn’t do Vogel any favors.
And Vogel hasn’t gotten enough credit for how much he has changed his offensive approach this season, embracing a small ball lineup that has kept the Lakers afloat at times this year. In brief moments, the Lakers have even looked like a competent team, even with so little production from so many veterans on the roster.
So Vogel has adapted this season, even if it’s often come too slowly, either in-game or across the season as a whole. But he’s a coach with flaws, and this roster was basically built to expose them. It’s a no-win situation, and no matter how critical Vogel may be of himself this season, it’s a situation where he was set up to fail. This is likely little solace, but at least it won’t be his problem much longer.