Many criticized the Los Angeles Lakers’ signing spree of aging veterans. For some, it’s as if the Lakers are building a retirement home for the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and other aged 30 something players. For others, its’ a flashback of the Lakers when it had Shaquille O’ Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton that lost to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals.
The Rondo Effect
One of those aging veterans that signed with the Lakers is Rajon Rondo.
Rondo signed another one-year contract with the Purple and Gold after agreeing to a buyout deal with the Memphis Grizzlies. He played two seasons with the Lakers and was instrumental during the Lakers’ championship run inside the Orlando bubble.
Then, Rondo left for the Atlanta Hawks, who later traded Rondo to the other Los Angeles team.
One reason why Rondo was a better fit compared to Dennis Schroder was because of his connection to Anthony Davis.
Sure, Dennis Schroder averaged 15 points, five assists, and 1.1 steals during his one-an-done run with Los Angeles. However, Rajon Rondo is perhaps one of the remaining “true” point guards of the past- meaning he dictates by orchestrating the offense.
While Schroder is a point guard who can score, that’s not the kind of a point guard that the Lakers needed for Anthony Davis. Remember that Anthony Davis game-winning trey against the Denver Nuggets? It was Rajon Rondo who dished out the game-winning assist.
Reports even claimed that Anthony Davis was frustrated that Dennis Schroder failed on setting him up in the same manner Rondo used to, particularly in the post. Rondo and Davis even played together with the New Orleans Pelicans, which explains the smooth connection.
That is despite Davis and Schroder played together for 808 minutes. Meanwhile, Davis and Rondo logged 473 minutes (regular season) and 310 in the playoffs.
It also didn’t help the Lakers that Davis was injured for a big chunk of last season while Schroder spent time entering the league’s health and safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There’s a reason why Rajon Rondo is a better point guard for LeBron James and Anthony Davis: experience.
Let’s put it this way: Russell Westbrook is an elite playmaker who can notch a triple-double in a snap of a finger. While many assumed that newcomer Kendrick Nunn would be Westbrook’s backup, it would be logical to place Rondo as the next playmaker to Westbrook. Why?
Even if Westbrook is on the bench, the Lakers would still have an elite point guard to take the pressure off LeBron James. Rondo’s presence would allow LeBron James to dominate the games with his scoring. More importantly, Anthony Davis would get his grove back because he will get more touches with Rondo back in the fold.
Rondo’s experience, especially during the playoffs, will help the Lakers regain that championship form. He doesn’t need to score, although he shot 40% from the three-point line during the Orlando bubble playoffs. His veteran leadership off the bench and his defense will do the talking in the 2021-2022 season.
The Lakers did the right thing in bringing back Rajon Rondo. Rondo has the experience the Lakers need to mount another championship run. More importantly, the chemistry he has with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and even Dwight Howard is something that many underestimate.
As they say, chemistry makes the game easier.