The Lakers’ best-laid plans of building a roster around playmaking have mostly been laid to waste by an injury bug that’s picked off their shot creators one by one. LeBron James has been out of the lineup for nearly a month, Lonzo Ball will be sidelined for at least that long, and Rajon Rondo has played just 14 games this season.
Rondo is set to return on Thursday against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center, and not a moment too soon. The Lakers’ offense has been discombobulated in the absence of a point guard. Let’s take a closer look at what Rondo’s return will mean for the team.
Brandon Ingram should be the primary beneficiary. The injuries have forced him to assume the de facto point guard role for large portions of the season, but his natural talents lend themselves to finishing plays instead of starting them.
Ingram expressed his excitement for Rondo’s return after the Lakers’ loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday.
“It gives us a leader on the basketball floor who puts us in our spots on the offensive end and pushes the pace. He can score the basketball. It just makes our team better,” Ingram said.
The Lakers’ big men should also benefit from Rondo’s ability to organize the offense and create looks for them out of the pick and roll.
Ivica Zubac, who has shown great chemistry with Rondo on the court, was similarly excited about Rondo’s anticipated return.
”It will be great. He’s one of our leaders,” Zubac said. “With him being on the floor it’s much easier. Especially for me, as a big, I always know what to do and where to be, and he’s going to help us a lot.”
Rondo isn’t the defender that he was ten years ago, but the offensive benefit far outweighs the detriment of his presence on the other end. The Lakers are 25-23 and currently on the outside looking in on the playoffs. They need leadership and organization as LeBron’s return remains uncertain, and this would be a good time for Playoff Rondo to show up a little early.