For the most part, the Los Angeles Lakers have a majority of their players healthy and playing, something they couldn’t say the last couple of seasons at any point.
However, head coach Frank Vogel’s rotations are still missing some major pieces like Rajon Rondo, Kyle Kuzma, and Alex Caruso — who did not play in the 2019-20 NBA season opener despite being active.
The lack of depth at the point guard position for the Lakers cost them in that opener, a 112-102 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Without Rondo or Caruso, the Lakers had no secondary ball-handlers after LeBron James. This meant the Clippers could successfully hound and trap other ball carriers like Quinn Cook, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Avery Bradley.
In the Clippers game, Bradley got the nod in the starting lineup. However, Vogel isn’t sure if that’s permanent, as he may want Rondo taking his spot when he returns from injury.
“I’ve given it a lot of thought and I think he’ll be in the starting lineup a lot,” Vogel said about Rondo. “I think there’s potentially two ways we can go with that position. Sometimes bringing Avery off the bench and sometimes bringing Rondo off the bench in terms of that position.”
“A lot of it can be dictated by matchups and the flow of our team and stuff like that,” Vogel said. “But I definitely envision a lot of games where he will be the starting point guard.”
If Rondo begins to get the starting job more often than not, he’ll need to learn how to play with James. Last season, he and James made for simply an awful on-court duo, as they bring the worst out in each other’s games.
In addition, if Rondo plans on starting, he’ll need to prove he can hit jumpers consistently. Right now, he’s being completely left alone on the perimeter as no defense trusts him to make a shot. If he starts making them, he may become an important asset.
If he doesn’t, it shouldn’t be long before Vogel puts him back on the bench, playing a limited secondary ball-handler role. If the Lakers were smart, they’d also be looking around the league for other options at the point guard position, especially if playing Rondo 20 or more minutes a night doesn’t pan out.
The Lakers will be tinkering with lineups all season long and this is only the beginning.