Kyle Kuzma is one of the better young players the Los Angeles Lakers have drafted in the range he was selected, but he needs to improve defensively if he wants to become a legitimate role player on any championship-caliber team, both in terms of technique and the mental side of the defensive game.
Rajon Rondo can’t really help with the physical side of things, but he can help Kuzma figure out what to look for in any given situation. So it’s pretty great to hear from Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka say during an appearance on ESPN 710 that such lessons are already taking place.
Pelinka started by praising Rondo, the thinker.
“When you look at guys like Rajon Rondo, he’s a basketball savant. All the players in the league know that. He was on our court a day ago and I was watching from my office. He was working on one play for two hours. That’s that Kobe-level of detail at breaking down plays.”
Of course Pelinka mentioned Kobe. Of course.
But it doesn’t take being Kobe’s former agent to see that Rondo has a special level of attention to detail, and Lakers head coach Luke Walton can already see how that can help the Lakers:
“Rondo is a natural leader, the way he communicates. He pulled Kuzma up to the film room and just the two of them, with our film guy, were watching defensive clips on Kuz already in the offseason.”
What I find interesting here is how different Rondo and Kuzma are as players, and yet they are still finding ways that Kuz can benefit from Rondo’s presence on the roster.
Kuzma, the shooter and offensive dynamo who showcased all kinds of new talents over the course of the year has very little in common with Rondo, the point guard who has figured out all kinds of ways to impact hugely important games despite his inability to shoot from basically anywhere outside of inches from the rim.
Rondo is one of the game’s utmost thinkers, though, and this kind of impact was likely exactly what the Lakers had in mind when they signed Rondo. It’s great to see that hope is already coming to fruition mere months after the signing became official, and hopefully Rondo can impact and mentor the rest of the roster like he already is with Kuzma.