The 2020-21 Lakers were a disappointing team on many fronts. As a whole, their title defense was a rather weak one after an injury-riddled season following an abbreviated offseason. Individually, multiple players struggled to meet expectations.
One of the names at the top of that list was Anthony Davis. After a dominant performance during the postseason inside the bubble, Davis entered the season far from that version of himself, struggling through the opening months of the season before going down with an injury in mid-February.
By the time he returned late in the year, the Lakers could not get going quickly enough before his season came to an end with a groin injury in the first round of the playoffs against Phoenix. While Davis’ frustrating season falls largely at his feet and bad luck with injuries, there was another aspect that reportedly led to his lackluster output.
According to a report from Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, Davis and new point guard Dennis Schröder did not quite see eye-to-eye.
Per an NBA source familiar with some of the Lakers’ struggles through the 2020-21 campaign, Davis felt some frustration that he wasn’t getting the kind of looks in the post with Dennis Schroder running the point compared to those he received with Rondo a year earlier.
Schröder himself more or less confirmed as much with a fairly innocuous quote that looks much different in hindsight given this report following practice on March 13.
“Since (Davis’) been out, he got on me when Damian Jones set a pick and roll on the left wing and I found him for the alley-oop right away,” Schröder said, “he looked at me, he was like ‘why can’t you do that with me?’... We’re still trying to figure it out. I think when he comes back, I’m going to put more pressure on myself to find him even more for the lobs because I think nobody can really stop that.”
It’s true that Davis and Schröder were never able to figure out the chemistry that the former had with Rajon Rondo, who rejoined the team on Tuesday. Despite injuries to Davis multiple trips to quarantine for health and safety protocols for Schröder, the pair still played just 808 minutes together across 30 games. Comparatively, in the prior year, Davis and Rondo played 473 minutes in the regular season and 310 in the postseason.
Despite the large sample size, Davis and Schröder could never get on a similar page that Rondo and Davis found themselves on more often than not.
No one had better chemistry with AD on this fake to a spin lob pass than Rondo did. pic.twitter.com/zlFuYpXKFG— Raj C. (@UnwrittenRul3s) September 1, 2021
Last season, Schröder assisted Davis 48 times in the regular season and five more times in the postseason. Rondo assisted Davis 57 times the regular season the year prior and 33 more times in the playoffs, in comparison.
It’s fair to note Schröder is a different type of player than Rondo and did far more scoring than Rondo did in his time in Los Angeles, but it’s still not great when one of the team’s star players feels frustrated with the point guard’s inability to get him the ball. Ultimately, it speaks to how clunky of a fit Schröder felt in the Lakers lineup, even if the team was succeeding with him as point guard when healthy last season.
While Rondo has returned to the Lakers this season, his role is likely to be a mentoring one on the bench and in the locker room. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t help others develop the chemistry alongside Davis that Schröder lacked which will hopefully lead to a more productive version of Davis, a necessity if the Lakers are going to compete for a title once again.