While many people were stuck on the couch getting their quarantine bod on, Rondo was obviously putting in work preparing for the Lakers championship chase to resume.
Rondo has averaged 20.5 minutes per game this season — the lowest of his career. However, he’s found a way to be a contributor with 7.1 points, five assists and three rebounds per game. But now with Avery Bradley sitting out as the season kicks back into gear, Rondo could find himself in a slightly bigger role.
“He’s a savvy vet,” Vogel said of Rondo during the season. “He’s someone thats going to rise to the occasion. Guys in their 30s, 82 games, they’re going to have some nights when you don’t look as spry as you did when you were early in your 20s, but when it matters, he’s gonna be there for us.”
Lakers Figuring Out Guard Rotation
The Lakers will have a few things to figure out before the games start to count in Orlando, premier among those being their guard rotation. Bradley had started 44 games for the Lakers this season, averaging 8.6 points and providing a solid defensive presence.
While Rondo will remain in his role player role off the bench, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope could be relied on to replace some key minutes. Caldwell-Pope had a tough start to the season, but turned things around and earned the respect of his head coach Frank Vogel.
“KCP has been one of the brightest parts of the season. He had a terrific stretch there particularly that time where Avery was out,” Vogel said during a press conference on Monday, per Mike Trudell. “After a little bit of a slow start, being one of the leaders on our team in playing harder than our opponent. The hustle, the intensity, changing ends of the floor, and then the shot-making that he exhibited during that stretch and really most of our season was a huge reason for our record. You need two-way guys that play both ends of the floor. With his shot-making ability and [ability] to make plays off the bounce as well as what he brings on the defensive end, being able to put him on really anybody on the perimeter, a big part of our defensive rating and a big part of our success this year.”
Fan-favorite Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook will likely play a part in replacing the minutes of Bradley as well.
J.R. Smith, Dion Waiters Impressing Early
Two other unknown factors for the Lakers in advance of the restart are veteran guard J.R. Smith and Dion Waiters. Smith was signed as the replacement for Bradley on July 1, while Waiters was signed before the NBA put the season on hold, but never played a game in the purple and gold. Vogel is confidence both can be contributors as they pick up the system.
“He shot the heck out of the ball yesterday,” Vogel said of Waiters. “He’s working extremely hard and looks really good. Like JR, both of these guys haven’t played full-contact basketball in some time, so conditioning will be a concern, but the talent is obvious.”
The Lakers are the favorite to take home the title at +200, per Odds Shark. The Milwaukee Bucks (+280) and Los Angeles Clippers (+300) are the next in line before a big drop off, with the Celtics at +1200.