The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled to find their footing. It’s unsurprisingly led to criticism directed toward head coach Frank Vogel. As the outside noise grows louder, star forward LeBron James has quickly leaped in to defend Vogel.
Lakers stumble through the first quarter of the season
Heading into the 2021-22 campaign, the Lakers knew it would be a challenging transition after a busy offseason revamping the roster.
Los Angeles has moved through the waters dealing with notable injuries coupled with inconsistent play on both ends of the floor, resulting in a 12-12 record through the first 24 games. James has only played in 12 games due to injuries and various other health issues, while the team has struggled to put forth any reliable performances.
All those shortcomings have led to an ever-growing criticism directed toward head coach Frank Vogel. The Lakers aren’t playing anywhere near the championship expectations that have generated significant outside pressure on him to turn it around.
The noise has hit a breaking point as James has directly addressed the chatter, strongly coming to his head coach’s defense.
LeBron James cools down Frank Vogel’s hot seat by publicly defending the Lakers’ criticized coach
The Lakers’ stumble through the first several weeks has drawn plenty of criticism.
The chatter has shifted toward more outside noise directed at Vogel’s job security, leaning toward his firing if Los Angeles cannot find any stable traction. It’s led to the four-time league MVP to voice that the players must do their part in performing better to alleviate the pressure.
“I think criticism comes with the job, you know?” James said after practice on Monday via Dave Mcmenamin of ESPN. “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.”
James’ comments aside, it’s hard to ignore the Lakers’ lackluster play as the team is struggling to find any essence of consistency. The team is currently fourth in scoring with 111.7 points per contest while ranking 29th, giving up 113.4 points per game.
Under Vogel, Los Angeles has held its hat on being one of the league’s top teams defensively, ranking first in defensive rating last season (106.8) and third in his first year (106.1). However, that certainly hasn’t been the case this year. Much of which is the lack of effort the roster is showing on that end of the floor, coupled with significant injuries to James, Trevor Ariza, and Kendrick Nunn, all missing time.
Meanwhile, Vogel has worked through various combinations to see what works effectively. He’s filtered with playing Anthony Davis at center or a smaller lineup featuring James at the five position. Ultimately, Vogel’s job security hinges on the team’s success.
Time is ticking on the Lakers
The Lakers continue to preach patience behind plenty of credence as it remains early in the season.
However, the clock is ticking as they sit in the sixth spot in the Western Conference standings. James’ health issues have played a significant factor in the team’s shortcomings, creating a lack of true on-court chemistry.
The 17-time All-Star must lead the charge, but it also needs the rest of the roster to pick it up. It goes far beyond Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis’ performance, as the Lakers spent the offseason adding proven talent.
Vogel isn’t on the chopping block, but if the Lakers can’t find traction soon, his job status could change quickly.