LeBron on the scrutiny facing Vogel
James was asked about the scrutiny facing Vogel after practice on Monday, as the 12-12 Lakers sit as the seventh seed in the West. “I think criticism comes with the job, you know?” he said. “Frank is a strong-minded guy. He has a great coaching staff. And we as his players have to do a better job of going out and producing on the floor. We’re a team and an organization that don’t mind some adversity, that don’t mind people saying things about us, obviously, because it comes with the territory.”
Instead of pointing fingers, the 36-year-old came to Vogel’s defense. And for the right reasons. Going into his third year with the Purple and Gold, Vogel, a proven defensive-minded coach, has been given the lowest-ceiling defensive roster of his tenure in LA. As a result, the Lakers currently rank 16th in DRtg, after finishing last season as the best defensive team in the NBA.
Despite LeBron laughing at “the narrative about the Lakers age,” one of the oldest rosters in NBA history is yet to prove age is just a number, at least not as a group. Individually, guys like Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and even LeBron himself have shown flashes of greatness twenty-four games into the season — James has had a few best-player-in-the-world-worthy performances. However, their impact is yet to show in the winning column.
And let’s not get it twisted — players have also received their fair share of criticism for lack of team success. But according to James, the Lakers’ veteran camp doesn’t care about it. And as long as the players are on his side, neither does Vogel.
“We have a lot of guys on this team that have been bulletin-board material for quite a long time, so it don’t quite bother us,” James said. “Everything that we do stays in house when it comes to our preparation and how we prepare for our next opponent and how we prepare to get better. Frank doesn’t care and we don’t either about what people are saying.”
Paying for a questionable offseason
For a group, two years removed from a championship, with the same core that led them to the organization’s 17th title, languishing around .500 simply won’t cut it — especially since they came into the season with obvious championship aspirations.
We knew implementing Russell Westbrook alongside LeBron and AD, and the rest of their veteran-loaded roster would be an experiment. But so far, the experiment hasn’t worked. Is Vogel the one to blame for it — in some sense, sure. But the Lakers’ issues go all the way back to the offseason and their questionable choices in free agency.
That’s why, with a quarter of the season in the books, it seems the organization has bitten off more than it can chew. It’ll take a collective effort for the team to get the most out of their situation, whatever that is. And whatever that ends up being, one guy can’t do it by himself, whether it’s the head coach, arguably the greatest players ever, or any other Hall of Famer on the roster.