Coming at the back of what was the longest NBA season and going into the next in what will be the shortest offseason, LA Lakers head coach Frank Vogel sounded confident and but not complacent. “The first thing you have to know when you are going in for a repeat it is going to be harder than before and the bulls eye is going to be bigger,” Vogel said on Friday speaking to media. “We played longer than everybody and had a shorter offseason than anybody else, so odds are stacked against us from that standpoint.”
In what was a season never seen before, Lakers won the 2019-20 NBA Championships beating Miami Heat 4-2 in the Finals. Vogel admitted that it was one the toughest Championships to win. “It is so difficult to win them in any environment,” said Vogel “The circumstances and adversity last season’s team faced were unprecedented so if you look at the totality of it, it is remarkable for our guys to be able to persevere through all that.”
Since winning their 17th championship, the Lakers saw some churn but Vogel is pretty chuffed about the reconfigured roster with seasoned players like Dennis Schröder, Montrezl Harrell, Marc Gasol and Wesley Matthews joining the superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
“The guys that we’ve brought in here are nasty dudes,” Vogel said. “These guys are all physical dudes that have that sort of edge to them that I think they’ll embrace right away. Obviously, the group that’s returning knows the value in what we created last year, and hopefully we’ll establish that early on.”
He didn’t hold back praising the players Lakers brought in to defend the title saying the group will need the edginess, chip-on-your-shoulder to set the tone this season. The Lakers open the season with a home contest against the LA Clippers on December 22 (Dec. 23 IST) and will play on Christmas Day for the 22nd consecutive season, hosting the Dallas Mavericks at the STAPLES Center.
When asked how he will deal with the sense of overconfidence that can creep in with the favorites tag, Vogel said his team had the right perspective of things and take nothing for granted. Being favorites doesn’t matter to those guys,” Vogel said. “They know how hard it is, they know all the work, sacrifice and commitment that goes into playing for that Championship, so I am not worried about that.”