National Basketball Association

In Need of Backup?

July 13, 2020

This season with the Lakers has been LeBron James' first ever as full-time point guard. And now, he might have to play the position a little bit more.

Rajon Rondo's injury is a blow to an already thin Lakers backcourt, considering starting shooting guard Avery Bradley last month announced that he would sit out of the rest of the season.

However, the dilemma also potentially presents an opportunity for James.

Nick Wright believes that the loss of Rondo isn't as detrimental as it may seem on paper, citing the 15-year NBA veteran's struggles over the past two seasons in LA.

"Prior to the Avery Bradley injury, my biggest concern with the Lakers was, 'Is Rondo going to play too much?'

"So the good side of this is that Rondo is removed and the coaching staff is forced to see what the rotation looks like with more Alex Caruso minutes, maybe more of the street free agent guys they brought in, because Rondo has been that kind of bad in his two years with the Lakers."

Throughout the first half of the 2019-20 season, the Lakers struggled when James went to the bench and Rondo took over playmaking duties, with the team being outscored by 3.8 points per 100 possessions with James off the floor.

In addition, Rondo's 7.1 points and 5.0 assists per game are his lowest averages since his rookie season.

However, despite his struggles, ESPN's Jay Williams pointed out that Rondo did serve as the primary ball handler for the Lakers' second unit, meaning regardless of his stats, he's valuable to the team's efforts.

"Rajon Rondo, his basketball IQ is off the charts. You've heard Doc Rivers talk about it, you've heard multiple coaches and GMs just really acknowledge the fact that he is a genius on the court. I think this is a huge loss for the Lakers, a team that was considered to be the presumptive favorite."

Presumably, third-year guard Alex Caruso will be called on to serve as James' primary backup, and so far this season, he's become a fan favorite in Tinseltown.

Still, Caruso is a far cry from Rondo in terms of experience, who has been known as one of the preeminent playoff performers of his generation, as explained by Shannon Sharpe.

"The playoff Rondo is real. He's one of the few players that once the playoffs roll around, his points, his rebounds, assists, those numbers all go up. There are very few people that can actually say that, that come playoff time, when the games are heightened, and intensity is heightened, and people are playing for keeps, his numbers increase. So it is definitely going to hurt."

Rondo has career regular season averages 0f 10.2 points, 8.3 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game, but in the playoffs, those averages jump to 14.0 points, 9.3 assists, and 6.1 rebounds.

The Lakers will have to now rely on Caruso, Quinn CookDion Waiters and the newly-signed J.R. Smith to help fill the voids left behind by Bradley and Rondo.

How that group handles its newfound responsibilities might determine whether the Lakers can realize their hopes of being crowned champions in October.


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