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Frank Vogel Isn’t The Lakers’ Problem Because These 3 Issues Are Far Worse

The Lakers are in trouble this season, but they’re not because of Frank Vogel. The problem lies with three issues far more important than the coach: LeBron’s health, age and Kobe Bryant’s retirement.

Frank Vogel is not the Lakers’ problem because these three issues are far worse. The “Frank Vogel” is a basketball coach who has been with the Indiana Pacers since 2011. He was named head coach of the Orlando Magic in 2012, and then became head coach of the Charlotte Hornets in 2013. Read more in detail here: frank vogel.

In Los Angeles, Frank Vogel is said to be on thin ice (where ice would be unstable, with all that sunshine). The Los Angeles Lakers are underachieving after an aggressive makeover last summer that brought in Russell Westbrook and a slew of ring-chasing veterans on minimum salaries. With an abdominal ailment, LeBron James lost a substantial amount of time. With a sprained knee, Anthony Davis is still out.

The Lakers are currently in seventh place in the Western Conference with a record of 23–23. Westbrook, who has never been a very good shooter, is at a stage with his jumper where catching the backboard seems like a moral triumph.

If Vogel is forced to walk the plank for the Lakers’ inability to play like a normal NBA club, it will not be due of his fault. It’s simpler to dismiss one coach than a whole team of players, as the cliché goes. However, there are at least three reasons why the newest catastrophe film from Los Angeles isn’t on Vogel.

1. The Lakers’ shoddy roster was not put together by Frank Vogel.

The Los Angeles Lakers are underachieving and while coach Frank Vogel seems poised to take the fall, there are many reasons why it's not all on him.

The Los Angeles Lakers are underachieving and while coach Frank Vogel seems poised to take the fall, there are many reasons why it's not all on him. Frank Vogel responds to the Lakers’ defense, LA’s next big-budget catastrophe show. | Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

As Hall of Fame NFL coach Bill Parcells once said, “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.”

Frank Vogel did not get a shopping list when he was welcomed to Trader Joe’s. Instead, he was given an aging Westbrook by general manager Rob Pelinka (reportedly at James and Davis’ request). The Lakers gave up quality role players Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell to receive the 2016–17 NBA MVP.

Kuzma is a young forward with a lot of attacking potential. Caldwell-Pope was the team’s greatest perimeter defender, while Harrell is an excellent bench player. In their place, Vogel chose Westbrook, 33, oblivious to the fact that his athleticism is unable to compensate for his terrible shooting and defensive tactics. He also snagged Carmelo Anthony, 37, and a slew of other NBA AARP members.

Los Angeles lacks defensive versatility. Because the maximum contracts of James, Davis, and Westbrook account for 75% of the salary limit, Pelinka has few tradeable contracts with which to work. It’s the worst of all worlds in one package.

Vogel’s rotations, reputation as a defensive-minded coach, and game plans in general have enraged fans. But, if the meal turns out to be a disaster, keep in mind that he didn’t choose the ingredients.

2. Davis’s frailty isn’t due to Vogel’s fault.

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The immediate payback for Pelinka’s mortgage of the Lakers’ future to acquire Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019 was an NBA title.

However, LA has lost in the first round through the play-in tournament in each of the two seasons since hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy, and is on track for another play-in berth in 2022.

Davis is a superstar, but he’s also a frequent injury victim. Last season, the No. 1 overall selection from 2012 was out for half of the season. He subsequently sat out a game in the playoffs against the Phoenix Suns. He hasn’t played since Dec. 17, and the game in Orlando on Jan. 21 will be his 16th in a row.

During that time, the Lakers had a 7–9 record. Davis’ defensive play was decent, not exceptional, even when he was healthy. Even so, he was enough to mask many of LA’s shortcomings on that end of the court. Without him, those shortcomings are in the limelight.

The Lakers are ranked 27th in the NBA since Davis’ injury, allowing 116.2 points per 100 possessions. Only the aforementioned defensive juggernauts Portland, Atlanta, and Houston are worse in that time period.

3. Frank Vogel’s squad is made up of elderly men who are still playing like old people.

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Frank Vogel made headlines last summer when he predicted that the Lakers would play exciting, fast-paced basketball.

The Lakers aren’t so much whiz kids as wheezing kids, with the NBA’s oldest average age of 31.0. ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry uncovered some startling, but not surprising, half-court statistics regarding the Lakers.

The average speed of LA’s half-court offense is 3.78 mph, which is the slowest in the NBA. When the Lakers hold the ball in the half-court, they walk 74.2 percent of the time. And, you got it, their 15.2 miles traveled a game in set offensive is the lowest in the league.

The Lakers have been explosive on the break, like he promised. They’re fourth in the league in terms of fast-break points per game, averaging 15.0 a game. They are, however, vulnerable to breakouts, ranking 26th in the league and allowing 13.9 points per game in transition.

Sloppiness with the basketball is one of the reasons behind this. Los Angeles is ranked 23rd in the league in terms of turnovers per game, allowing 16.8 points each night. Westbrook was responsible for a large portion of it, averaging 4.8 turnovers per game in his first 38 games.

The veteran has only given away the ball seven times in his past seven games. The cautious Westbrook, on the other hand, is unable to make a single shot. In the same time frame, he’s made 30.2 percent of his shots (15.1 per game) and is 6-of-19 (31.6 percent) from beyond the arc. The latter total is bolstered by a 4-for-6 performance against the Pacers on Jan. 19 at home.

The Lakers’ coach, Frank Vogel, is on the verge of being fired. It’s not right, but that’s how it goes when you’re an NBA coach.

Basketball Reference and NBA.com provided the statistics. Spotrac provided contract details.

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