Aside from LeBron James, arguably the most important signing the Los Angeles Lakers made this summer was that of Rajon Rondo. Last year, the team’s point guard depth was abysmal and things were dire when Lonzo Ball dealt with injuries.
Rondo gives the Lakers one of the best playmakers the NBA has seen over the past decade, as well as a veteran presence to teach and push Ball. He is also known as one of the smartest players in the league, something that the Lakers coaching staff values.
Assistant coach Jesse Mermuys spoke with Mike Trudell about Rondo, noting how his basketball IQ is just at a another level:
“It’s a hit-you-in-the-face obvious thing. You don’t have to be an NBA coach to see that he is mentally at a different level than most guys. He just knows how to exploit defenses. There are a lot of players in the NBA that are just playing basketball, and are really talented, playing off their instincts. When they see something, they change their direction because their body tells them, ‘I need to get around this guy and use my left hand.’”
Mermuys added that Rondo is basically like having another coach on the court:
“Well, what Rajon Rondo’s doing is on two, three, four levels deeper than that. Not only is he playing as a basketball player, but he’s playing chess, because he knows the defense that the team is in, he knows the weaknesses of that defense, he knows the positioning of the weak side of that defense. He knows tendencies of players and knows how to exploit them. He’s basically an NBA coach playing basketball, which for a coaching staff, that is the most valuable thing possible. Because you basically have one of your assistants on the floor.”
Rondo is coming off a bounceback season with the New Orleans Pelicans. In particular, his performance during their playoff run turned a lot of heads and showed that he still has plenty left in the tank.
Whether he is a starter or coming off the bench, Rondo definitely brings a lot to the table for the Lakers. As Mermuys notes, Rondo really is like having another coach on the floor and someone like that will greatly benefit not only Lonzo, but the rest of the young core as well.