The Los Angeles Lakers may have lost their first preseason game of the LeBron James era, but the team still showed some promise even amidst quite a bit miscommunication defensively. According to Rajon Rondo, though, communication probably won’t be a problem for L.A. for very long.
When Rondo was asked at the Lakers’ Sunday shootaround if anything has surprised him about teaming up with James so far, Rondo said that the only thing that qualified was James being an even better leader and communicator than he anticipated (via Kyle Goon of the O.C. Register):
”I played against him for 13 years now, but obviously I think what your hear vs. what you see is a little bit different. He is who I thought he was, he’s probably even a better leader, especially on the floor, telling everybody where to go and directing traffic.”
Rondo said this quality was a relief to him, because it takes some of the pressure off of him to have all the responsibility for the Lakers in calling things out on offense and defense:
“I’m so used to doing that myself, so it’s kind of refreshing to me to not have to talk every possession down the floor because I have someone else doing the same thing that you can obviously trust.”
For the Lakers, this seems to be what the front office is hoping their oft-questioned offseason signings can accomplish. While watching the first preseason game — always a dangerous thing to draw too many conclusions from, to be clear — it did seem like this roster is filled with a lot of guys who can do one of two things, and some who can do both:
- Try really, really hard.
- Play smart and not beat themselves.
Guys like Rondo and James definitely fall into both categories, and we’ll see if the Lakers’ brain trust has actually discovered a market inefficiency or if the team’s effort and intelligence aren’t quite enough to overcome some of this roster’s fit issues.
Things like James and Rondo calling out opponents’ defensive coverages and helping the younger players on the roster make adjustments definitely gives the Lakers a decent chance to outperform some of the more pessimistic predictions for this team, but we’ll need to watch more than one preseason game to figure out if it’s enough.
At the very least, though, it’s a positive sign that James and Rondo continue to have such strong mutual respect for one another, something that can almost surely help unify a locker room full of strong personalities.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.