On the surface, the idea of a competition for minutes between Lonzo Ball and Rajon Rondo might make some sense. Rondo pushes Ball to become a better player and legitimately earn the starting spot and then assumes the bulk of the backup point guard minutes.
Oooooooor... Lonzo wilts under the pressure of the competition with Rondo, can’t beat him out due to a balky, still-recovering knee, loses confidence and doesn’t grow fully to the player he’s capable of becoming and the sky falls to kill everyone. Okay, fine, that’s a bit extreme, but you get what I’m saying.
On The Jim Rome Show, Walton was asked about the point guard situation and he seems to think things will resemble that first scenario.
“I think it’ll be great... I know Rondo and I know Zo, and they’re both very competitive people, and to me, that’s where you get the most growth. That’s where you get a team that can reach its full potential is when you have people going at each other and pushing each other in practice.
“Now the key, and what our challenge is, is to make the culture where they go at each other but they also have a brotherhood within the locker room, so as soon as they’re not competing in practice, it’s that family atmosphere where they’re pulling for one another in the games, and learning from one another, and teaching each other.”
In complete fairness, Rondo has sounded realistic about the situation and seems to realize that it’s probably best for the Lakers if he accepts a backup role and pushes Lonzo to be better.
And, according to several accounts, Rondo was seen as a great mentor to younger players in both New Orleans and Chicago during the regular season, and we’ve seen in consecutive postseasons that “Playoff Rondo” is most definitely a thing.
Ball is also recovering from knee surgery and missed 30 games last season, so Rondo might wind up playing a larger role out of sheer necessity, but let’s pray the Lakers don’t have to break that glass in case of emergency.
If everyone understands and rolls with what’s best for the team, this competition can be a great thing for all involved. Let’s just hope that’s the case.