The Los Angeles Lakers failed to get a win in their 2019-20 NBA season opener against the Los Angeles Clippers as the lack of a secondary ball handler after LeBron James plagued head coach Frank Vogel’s rotations.
The Clippers were able to take advantage of this by hounding ball handlers right out of the gate in the backcourt, forcing ill-advised passes and traps and leading to bad shots and turnovers. The Clippers defense is clearly as scary as advertised, but the Lakers lack of consistent ball handling more so contributed to their lack of success.
Vogel spoke about the Clippers heavy defensive pressure on their point guards and what it means for the team moving forward as they navigate the 82-game season.
Vogel believes that injuries to his point guards is the real issue at the moment and how Rondo will help.
“Well, getting our point guards healthy will change that. I mean, I envision Rajon Rondo being a major player for us this year… 25-30 minute a game guy whether he starts or comes off the bench,” Vogel said. “So that naturally will lighten the load.”
“Injuries to Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook… and the minutes restriction on Quinn Cook also put more usage on LeBron in the pick and roll game. And then within that, we can be more efficient in a pass and cut offense as well, and not having to bang as much, but I don’t really think that was overdone,” Vogel shared.
“I don’t think it was a problem for LeBron, it’s just something we’re going to have to keep an eye on.”
Rondo could be an important player for this team solely based on his ability to handle the ball and maybe Vogel views that skill as so important, it’s worthy of 25-30 minutes.
However, it’s important for Vogel to remember that James and Rondo were terrible on the floor together last season with defensive inefficiencies and turnovers every way they turned. Maybe this season — with a new supporting cast — things will be different, but Vogel will have to keep a close eye on the pairing.
Injuries are a big problem for the Lakers right now, as the injuries they have are forcing them to play multiple three-and-D players at once, which means extremely limited ball-handling and playmaking. Because of this, perhaps Rondo really can make a difference for this team.