Not long after Los Angeles Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo said he felt that he and LeBron’s basketball IQ could have toppled Golden State in the playoffs, ESPN dropped some stats that might just back his bold claim up. Despite not making the playoffs at all, the Lakers had two players land on ESPN’s Ranking 10 players who overachieve most in the NBA playoffs.
The Lakers had an extremely unlucky run with injuries this past season and were climbing their way up a loaded western conference before the worst of those set in. At their best sitting at fourth in the standings, it isn’t unrealistic to expect that the Lakers could have done some damage if everyone had remained healthy.
You can read the entire article here (it’s worth a read) but let’s take a look at the two Lakers who made the list.
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#4 – Rajon Rondo, Lakers PG
A Laker last season but a free agent this summer, Rajon Rondo clocks in with the fourth highest differential between his expected WARP and his actual playoff production. With a differential of 4.1, “Playoff Rondo” is certainly a phenomenon backed up on a statistical level and something that could have come in handy if the Lakers had been able to salvage the season and make the playoffs.
It doesn’t look promising that the Lakers will be able to bring back Rondo this season and doing so would likely signal that the Lakers struck out on a top tier free agent. Rondo is getting older but should still command a bit more than a mid-level exception or the minimum salary. While he probably won’t make another $9 million, he likely still falls outside of the Lakers’ price range.
Should the Lakers land a max player in free agency, they would be essentially flush against the salary cap and limited to adding players via cap exceptions and minimum deals.
#1 – LeBron James, Lakers SF
Outperforming his expected WARP in the playoffs by a whopping 14.1, LeBron James more than doubles the next highest playoff overachiever (Draymond Green, 7). While his playoff greatness is sometimes slept on due to how casually he can go out and get 27/7/7, the fact remains that LeBron has willed a few less than stellar teams to incredibly deep playoff runs.
While he suffered the worst injury of his career and was shut down last season, expect James to still be able to carry a team – despite his age. He will undoubtedly need some help at times as father time doesn’t rest for any man but is still head and shoulders above the vast majority of the league in terms of his ability.