The Los Angeles Lakers will play their first preseason game of the year on Saturday and Frank Vogel will roll out his first starting lineup as the team’s head coach.
While Vogel wouldn’t disclose who he’ll feature in his starting lineup after practice on Friday, he denied being against playing Rajon Rondo with LeBron James after saying he wants to stagger them on Thursday.
“I do like the lineup of he and AD playing together because, obviously, they played together in the past in New Orleans and had a lot of success there, so I do like that combination,” Vogel said. “But honestly, I like him out there with LeBron every bit as much, so it’s not a situation where I’m only going to try and pair him with Anthony’s minutes. I like those two guys together, but again: I think Rajon’s going to have an exceptional year shooting the basketball this year and he allows LeBron exercise his versatility of playing off the ball, so I like him with both of those guys.”
Rondo having a career-year from behind the 3-point line would undoubtedly make him a better fit alongside James and Anthony Davis, but it’s worth questioning just how much that would put him ahead of guys like Alex Caruso or Avery Bradley, assuming it does.
The whole appeal with Caruso and Bradley is their theoretical ability to defend players like Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and Mike Conley on any given night. Rondo used to be a pesky perimeter defender, but last season he ranked No. 67 out of 87 points guards in Real Defensive Plus-Minus (-1.38) last season.
Would Rondo be a terrible fit with James and Davis in the first unit? Maybe not, but would he better than Bradley, Caruso or even Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? It’s debatable.
We’ll see which direction Vogel goes on Saturday.