While the 9.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and eight assists suggest that Rondo is the same player he was just a few years ago, the advanced numbers tell a different story. Last season, Rondo posted a team-worst defensive rating of 113.3 and a net rating of -8.6 in 45 appearances for the Lakers, including 29 starts. Then, through three games in the preseason this year, Rondo posted a -0.8 net rating.
The fact of the matter is that Rondo isn’t a starting point guard in the NBA anymore, and hasn’t been for a while now. Luckily for the Lakers, it doesn’t sound like Rondo is going to start too many games, despite Vogel’s comments after practice on Thursday.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, Rondo will start some games for the Lakers, but Vogel’s use of “a lot” may have been inaccurate:
More on Rondo as the starting point guard: LAL always planned for him to start a number of games at PG, sources said. It might be as few as 10 games, though. There will still be plenty of time with LeBron as the primary ball handler, just not him as the exclusive starting PG.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) October 25, 2019
In Vogel’s defense, he did say that the starting point guard rotation would be dependent on matchups and the flow of the game, so it makes sense that Rondo wouldn’t start every game. That still begs the question, though: When is it going to be advantageous for the Lakers to start Rondo as opposed to their other options at point guard?
Yes, Rondo has the most history with both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but the little that he gives the Lakers offensively doesn’t make up for his shortcomings on defense, or at least they haven’t so far. Perhaps that could change as the season goes on, but nothing Rondo has done recently merits him getting playing time over players like Avery Bradley and Alex Caruso, who are bother better fits with James.
Will there be nights where Rondo will be able to help get the Lakere’ offense going when it’s stagnant? Probably. Should he start or finish games? As long as LeBron James is the team’s primary ball-handler, no.