Former Los Angeles Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo now resides with the Atlanta Hawks, where he hopes to help take a young team to the postseason. Last season — despite struggles in the regular season — head coach Frank Vogel believed in Rondo, who delivered in a big way once the playoffs began.
Rondo was consistently the Lakers’ third or fourth-best player on their run to the 17th championship in franchise history. All season, Vogel and Lakers players said that Playoff Rondo would come in the important moments, and he absolutely did.
With Rondo returning to Staples Center and receiving his ring on Saturday, Vogel spoke to his contributions to the Lakers in 2020.
“He was pivotal in our overall identity last year and who we were as a group. A high I.Q. group. Obviously, during that playoff run he had some spectacular performances that helped us win a championship. It was a great personal relationship of mine getting to coach him for a year. A great experience for me, and obviously the Lakers will always be grateful for his contributions to help us win a championship last year.”
Statistics and the eye test were both in agreement that Rondo was one of L.A.’s most important people in September and October. His averages improved from the regular season across the board, and he helped anchor the offense when LeBron James was on the bench.
In addition to these compliments, Vogel also teased a tribute video, which was played during their game against the Hawks on Saturday:
Give it up for the champ. Thank you, Rajon. pic.twitter.com/l40jXDxhcr
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 20, 2021
While he was only with the team for two years, Rondo’s contributions were vital for a championship, making all of the regular season struggles forgiven and forgotten.
Vogel calls Rondo ‘unique’ player
When asked if it has been difficult to replace Rondo this season, Vogel pointed to some of the Lakers guards that have been able to do so. He added that there is no one in the league that can truly replace what a veteran like Rondo brings to the table though.
“He’s such a unique player. His mind is unlike any player that I’ve ever coached and that the league has probably seen. He just has a unique lens on the game. I think that’s something you cannot replace, but some of his playmaking ability and defense those things have been replaced with Talen [Horton-Tucker] getting more opportunity. Alex [Caruso] getting more opportunity. Dennis [Schroder] being in the fold and being a big part of our team, but Rondo is unique.
“That’s one thing that I’ve always felt about him.”
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