The season clearly did not go as planned for the Los Angeles Lakers, and one of the places people put blame is the fact that the front office signed the likes of Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson in effort to dethrone the Golden State Warriors in an unconventional way.
Rondo was one of many players who missed a ton of games this season due to injury. However, when he did play, his lack of defensive effort was a detriment to the team. In the second half of the season, the Lakers’ anemic defense has cost them several games.
Despite that, Rondo still believes that injuries were the cause of dysfunction for this team, a theory that absolutely holds merit, statistically. Rondo stated that if the Lakers were fully healthy, they could have done some serious damage, even to the Warriors, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
“We still didn’t have a full deck this year so you can’t really throw out that philosophy and say it didn’t work. Championships are won defensively. It’s a miss-make league. You can’t control, obviously, the shots you make. It helps if you got a lot of shooters, three-point makers. But you’re not going to outscore Golden State Warriors in a seven-game series. The only way you’re going to be able to do it is get defensive stops, and I think we had that type of roster when we were healthy as far as guys that take pride defensively.”
LeBron James’ and Lonzo Ball’s injury can easily be cited as the point where the Lakers defense crumbled. At their peak, the Lakers were seventh in defensive rating, and since then have tumbled to the bottom half of the league.
Maybe Rondo is right, and that fully healthy the Lakers could’ve done damage, but it’s likely that their lack of shooting and lack of pure defenders might have come back to haunt them anyway.