Frank Vogel: Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Small Ball, Injury Updates

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel revealed the two things that have impressed him most about Carmelo Anthony to begin the 2021-22 NBA season.

“I think first I’d say probably just the care factor on that side of the ball. Reputation is reputation, but he’s had the mindset to come in and pull his own weight and then some on the defensive side of the ball and be part of a great defense,” Vogel said.

“He asks good questions, makes sure he’s sharp with all of our coverages, and I think the other more specific thing is something you don’t see when you’re coaching against him is he’s a great communicator defensively. He’s really one of our best guys out there calling out the action, make sure our guards’ feet are changing when screen and rolls are happening, and things like that. If you got a great communicator, that really helps everything, so I’d say those two things.”

In the 95-85 win over the Houston Rockets, Anthony recorded a career-high-tying 4 blocks to go along with 2 steals in only 25 minutes. He had not accomplished these stats since Dec. 2, 2003 versus LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

As Anthony has surpassed expectations defensively, he has already established himself as an early 2021-22 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award candidate.

“I was really excited about signing him and I thought he could have a huge role on our team and he’s off to a great start, so I don’t think I should say I’m surprised,” Vogel said about Anthony’s performance off the bench. “This is what we were sort of hoping for with him coming in and obviously there’s a lot of basketball still to be played it’s super early in the season. Hopefully, he can continue his early success.”

In 7 games (0 starts), Anthony is averaging 16.7 points (50.0% shooting from the field and 52.2% from the three-point line) and 3.9 rebounds in 27.0 minutes.

While there were questions about Anthony’s role at this stage of his career, he has been extremely efficient on offense and has not been a total liability on defense.

Frank Vogel Discusses Russell Westbrook’s Fit And Swagger With Lakers

Vogel discussed Rusell Westbrook‘s fit with the Lakers and how coachable he has been through 7 games as he has to make the most adjustments on both ends.

“He’s very coachable. He’s trying to do what we’re asking him to do and it is a little bit different for him,” Vogel said about Westbrook. “I think for a lot of our guys… in a lot of their careers, they’ve had a lot of dirty work guys around them and they all have to support each other in that way and really commit to guarding their own man and executing our scheme and I feel like Russ is doing a good job with that.”

As Vogel has previously talked about Rajon Rondo’s swagger, he believes Westbrook provides the Lakers with a certain level of confidence as well.

“He’s someone that you have to account for and the intensity with which he plays the game does give your team a certain level of confidence like you refer to in the Rondo analogy,” Vogel said. “I think that just benefits everything we’re doing.”

Frank Vogel Analyzes Lakers Small-Ball Starting Lineup And Defense

Vogel analyzed the team’s small-ball starting lineup with James at power forward and Anthony Davis at center as DeAndre Jordan came off the Lakers bench.

“I mean [James’] coverages can be different. It depends what the other team’s lineup looks like. Sometimes they have four perimeter players and a big and sometimes like we saw last night if he’s matched up with someone like Christian Wood, who is a lot of the times the screener in the action more than the ball handler in action, so the coverages are slightly different,” Vogel explained.

“I was really impressed that he seamlessly picked that up without any work and just executed the big man responsibilities as guarding the screener as opposed to guarding the ball. He did it really well, but it’s going to depend on the matchups.”

With Avery Bradley starting, the Lakers forced 27 turnovers, but only had 14 points off of them. However, Vogel was more pleased about the team’s 37 deflections.

“I just think the commitment. We’ve been really harping on the necessary ingredient of building an elite defense to achieve what we want to achieve this year and it takes commitment,” Vogel said about holding the Rockets to 85 points. “It’s reflected in the number of deflections. We had 37 and deflections are indicative of your overall activity level. Your overall activity level is reflective of your overall commitment to be great on that side of the ball and all those things were great.”

After being a top-5 defensive team in Vogel’s first two seasons as head coach, the Lakers are currently 16th (107.1) in defensive rating to begin the new season, according to This can be attributed to having 12 new players and losing their 2 best perimeter players in Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Lakers Injury Updates: Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, Wayne Ellington

Talen Horton-Tucker (right thumb injury recovery): “He got his stitches out and they’re hopeful to have him start doing some shooting tomorrow (Nov. 2), but still on track with the timetable that we laid out a few weeks ago,” Vogel said.

Kendrick Nunn (right knee bone bruise): “He’s still on track with the same timetable. He’s still not been moving yet… staying off of it,” Vogel said.

Wayne Ellington: “Wayne is going to practice with the G League. You have to assign him by the rules or whatever, but it’s just to go down to practice here, just to get some live work. Our practice was just light scripts and film, so for him to get some live work, he’s gonna work with the G League,” Vogel on Ellington’s availability.

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