No one would blame the Los Angeles Lakers if they sputtered out of the gate this upcoming season. On top of coming off a championship, they are given the shortest offseason an NBA finalist has ever had, re-taking the court about two months after beating the Miami Heat in Orlando.
Still, Frank Vogel doesn’t envision that his team will lay off the gas pedal much. Speaking to the media on Friday, the Lakers’ head coach maintained that the Lakers will still play every regular-season game “like it’s the championship” because that’s how the team’s mentality has been built. Vogel’s full statement, via Silver Screen and Roll’s Harrison Faigen, is worth the read for every Lakers fan if you’re not already excited about the squad trying to defend its trophy:
A defining characteristic of the Lakers' identity last season was that they cared and brought it every single night. Can that continue during an expedited regular season that starts just two months after they won the title?
Frank Vogel thinks so. pic.twitter.com/XJNYHzowdw
— NBA INSIDER HARRISON FAIGEN (@hmfaigen) December 5, 2020
Of course, regardless of what Vogel says, we still shouldn’t be too surprised to see a few let downs. The short offseason and condensed regular season mean that there may have to be more time given to rest and recovery for the Lakers’ stars, particularly LeBron James who the Lakers will want to preserve for the duration of his three-year contract.
Fortunately, however, Rob Pelinka and the front office seem to have created a deep squad that can handle those types of games and still come out on top. Last year, many pundits expected the Lakers to ease into the regular season but instead, they largely dominated the Western Conference to acquire the top seed headed into the playoffs. This year, they don’t need to build the same type of chemistry as they are returning the majority of their championship rotation. But Vogel knows the league is adjusting to the Lakers and expects that his team will have to be even better to repeat their success:
Frank Vogel tells @LakersReporter that repeating is even harder than winning the first one, and the Lakers have to maintain their defense-first mindset, togetherness and sharing the ball, and that those will be the messages on Day One of camp.
"We've got to be even better."
— NBA INSIDER HARRISON FAIGEN (@hmfaigen) December 4, 2020
The balance of keeping the team fresh and healthy while still maintaining that cutting edge and rhythm will arguably be Vogel’s biggest challenge this season. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see how the head coach manifests these statements into the actual results.