NBA

Lakers' Vogel explains approach to coaching LeBron & Davis

By Sports Desk September 10, 2019
Frank Vogel Frank Vogel

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel explained his approach to working with stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis this season.

Vogel will lead the Lakers in the upcoming NBA season after Luke Walton left Los Angeles, where it has been six successive campaigns without playoff basketball.

The Lakers have boosted their postseason and championship chances by luring Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to team up with superstar James.

Vogel knows he is facing big expectations entering his first season and in a Q&A with NBA.com, the former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach said: "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."

Vogel replaces Walton, who parted ways with the Lakers after three seasons and just one with James.

Walton and James built a 20-14 record before the 15-time All-Star missed five weeks due to injury.

Vogel acknowledged some of the concerns that coaches have when it comes to leading James, but said he is not relying on the three-time NBA champion's past relationships with coaches to determine how the two will bond on the court.

"I only know how he's been with me. That's the only measuring stick I'm going to use," Vogel said. "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."

As for Davis? Vogel explained that it will be important to determine whether the six-time All-Star plays forward or center.

"To me, he's effective in both positions. But I don't think it's wise when your mindset is to be at your best going into the playoffs, to have him banging with centers for 82 games full time," Vogel added. "Does that mean he's never going to do it in the regular season? No, of course he's going to play some center in the regular season. But we want to make sure we keep the end goal in sight and getting him to April, for that playoff run, the right way."

Vogel said despite the high expectations, he is prepared for whatever this season may bring.

"We have the pieces to compete for a championship. To have expectations that it's all going to come together immediately might be reaching a little bit," Vogel said. "I'm sure we’ll have some bumps in the road. But hopefully as these guys gel … we have a number of guys with terrific resumes, but they have to learn each other. And they'll have to learn each other quickly.

"Then we'll be in the mix for the regular season and positioning ourselves for a playoff run. You just never know how quickly that process is going to play out. So hopefully, whatever the regular season looks like, by the time you get into the playoffs you're gelling at the right time and playing your best basketball."

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    A significantly weakened US squad - missing a host of star names but still packed with NBA experience - saw their title defence ended by France at the quarter-final stage earlier this week, before also losing to Serbia.

    That meant Saturday's triumph at Beijing's Wukesong Sport Arena, in which Donovan Mitchell starred with 16 points and 10 assists, was only enough to secure seventh place for the country that won gold at each of the last two World Cups.

    Popovich nevertheless said he was proud of his players' efforts as he firmly rejected some of the criticism that has come the USA's way.

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    Mitchell was one of five players to put up a double-figure points tally in the USA's final game, along with Joe Harris (14), Khris Middleton (13), Derrick White (12) and Harrison Barnes (10). Middleton also contributed six rebounds and half a dozen assists.

    Poland, playing their first World Cup since 1967, were paced by Mateusz Ponitka (18 points), Adam Waczynski (17) and A.J. Slaughter (15).

    The outcome was decided early with Team USA scoring the game's first 10 points and stretching their lead to 14 by the end of the first quarter.

    They led 47-30 at half-time, aided by Poland's inability to hit from three-point range. The underdogs missed their first 13 shots from behind the arc before finally getting one to fall with a minute and 28 seconds to play before the interval.

    Poland did rally in the second half, getting as close as seven points with four minutes and seven seconds left in the third quarter, but the Americans responded with a 9-2 run and ran out comfortable winners.

    Serbia secured fifth spot with a 90-81 victory over Czech Republic later in the day, Bogdan Bogdanovic the star of the show with 31 points.

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    A significantly weakened US squad - missing a host of star names but still packed with NBA experience - saw their title defence ended by France at the quarter-final stage earlier this week, before also losing to Serbia.

    That meant Saturday's triumph at Beijing's Wukesong Sport Arena, in which Donovan Mitchell starred with 16 points and 10 assists, was only enough to secure seventh place for the country that won gold at each of the last two World Cups.

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    "Some people want to play the blame game, there's no blame to be placed anywhere," the veteran head coach was quoted as saying by ESPN. "They want to play the shame game, like we should be ashamed because we didn't win a gold medal?

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    They led 47-30 at half-time, aided by Poland's inability to hit from three-point range. The underdogs missed their first 13 shots from behind the arc before finally getting one to fall with a minute and 28 seconds to play before the interval.

    Poland did rally in the second half, getting as close as seven points with four minutes and seven seconds left in the third quarter, but the Americans responded with a 9-2 run and ran out comfortable winners.

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    Lamar Odom did the double in 2010 with United States and the Los Angeles Lakers. After the Lakers bested the Boston Celtics in seven games that year, Odom stood atop the podium three months later in Istanbul with his USA team-mates hoisting the Naismith Trophy.

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