EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Frank Vogel admitted that Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers disrupted "everything" in the Los Angeles Lakers' 112-102 loss on opening night. But in straying from their intended pick-and-roll-heavy offense because of the Clippers' switching schemes, Vogel believes the Lakers happened upon an effective alternative.
"The first positive is our post offense is a problem for other teams," Vogel said Wednesday when asked to share a hopeful tidbit gleaned from the Lakers' film session.
The Lakers' post offense was far more effective than any pick-based possession. It wasn't close, really. In 30 pick plays, L.A. averaged 0.56 points per possession, well below the 2018-19 NBA average of 0.97 points on those plays, according to Second Spectrum.
However, the Lakers' 27 post-up plays worked out to the tune of 1.17 points per possession, which would have been the best rate in the league last season if L.A. had carried it all season, per Second Spectrum.
Chief among the post-up targets was Anthony Davis, who posted up 22 times in his Lakers debut, according to Second Spectrum, the second-most he has posted up in a game in the past seven seasons, which is as far back as the data go.
"They couldn't stop him," Vogel said of Davis on the block. "So whatever works, you go to it again, and we just kept going to him."
When the pick-and-roll gets blown up like it did Tuesday, Vogel says there are other counters L.A. can use beyond simply riding Davis.
"We can pass and cut a lot more than we did," he said. "We can run a lot more than we did."
Vogel also said that when the Lakers do post up, they can space the floor around the man with the ball much better.
There are no plans to abandon the pick-and-roll. Instead, Rajon Rondo, who missed opening night with a sore calf, will be in the mix running screen-roll action in the future.
"I envision Rajon Rondo being a major player for us this year -- 25-30 minutes a game guy, whether he starts or comes off the bench," Vogel said, adding that Rondo remains day-to-day ahead of Friday's game against the Utah Jazz.
Rondo, 33, averaged 9.2 points on 40.5% shooting (35.9% from 3) with 8.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds last season, his first with the Lakers. However, he had a real plus-minus of negative 3.56 points per 100 possessions, meaning that over the course of the season, L.A. seemed to lose ground when he was in the lineup.
Vogel gave Rondo's minutes exclusively to Quinn Cook in the opener. Cook finished with four points on 2-for-7 shooting, two assists and one turnover in 17 minutes. He missed two key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter while L.A. was trying to keep pace with the Clippers. He too was dealing with a sore calf muscle, which limited his role.
Alex Caruso, who is expected to get a look in Vogel's backcourt rotation, was available to play coming off a bruised pelvic bone in the preseason, but Vogel kept him on the bench.
All of those circumstances led to LeBron James playing 36 minutes at point guard, and he struggled down the stretch, shooting just 1-for-4 in the fourth quarter with three turnovers.
James' workload is another area in which Rondo figures to be a factor.
"I think when Rajon comes back, we'll have the mindset that he can quarterback the offense with anybody that's out there," Vogel said.
The Lakers will apply the lessons learned from the loss to the Clippers.
"I think getting Rajon Rondo back will put us in a lot more pick-and-rolls, but our post offense was something [the Clippers] had to deal with," Vogel said. "We were heavier in the post than maybe we will be throughout the season because of it being effective for us, but we continue to make sure we have a diverse package out there."