LeBron James entered the NBA’s health and safety protocol which means he could be out for at least ten days. In his absence, the Lakers will again be tested without their top star, and according to Gilbert Arenas, it’s the perfect time to find out if Frank Vogel has what it takes to lead the team to the promised land.
Frank Vogel in the hot seat
Since the Sacramento Kings fired Luke Walton, chatter around the league grew louder that Frank Vogel could be next. Despite a retooled lineup featuring LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis, and Dwight Howard, the Lakers still find themselves languishing in mediocrity with a 12-11 record, good for 6th in Western Conference.
The team lost to the rebuilding OKC Thunder twice, Timberwolves, and Sacramento Kings. Without James, L.A. is 5-7 this season. If he tests positive for Covid, he will miss games against the Clippers, Celtics, and Grizzlies. Fortunately for the Lakers, Russell Westbrook seems to have found his groove in recent games. He’s scored at least 20 points in their last five games to help ease the burden on Anthony Davis in the absence of LeBron. Meanwhile, AD has to assert himself more in the rebounding department as he recorded ten rebounds twice in their last five games.
Others are more than capable of giving good games, but does Vogel have the coaching smarts to get the most out of his depleted lineup? In his podcast, Gilbert Arenas shared that he thinks this is the perfect time for the embattled coach to show what he’s got.
“Vogel gotta coach now. I swear to god that's all I think; LeBron being rested, you know? Coaching and the lineups - he's really gonna have to you know really dial down and really get to coaching. Seeing what he actually has so when LeBron comes back, mid-December, that he can have something to work with. He's been carrying him up this whole season, carrying the s**t out of them, trying to get them on the right path.”
Gilbert Arenas, ">No Chill with Gil
It could be a make or break for Frank, and if the Lakers slid down further in the standings without James, the front office could be looking for a replacement as early as now.
Vogel’s record without superstars
In Indiana, Vogel's record without All-Star Paul George was 197-214. In L.A., Frank lost 24 games without The King and has 20 losses without AD. His system relies on star power, and the Lakers have more than enough of it even without LeBron.
The Lakers appear to have solved their 3rd quarter woes and improved their defensive rating in the last five games. The roster is full of stoppers, and if Frank Vogel could inspire them to work harder, the Lakers will be fine in the absence of James. If not, we might hear more rumblings about a coaching change in LA.