The last thing you want to see if you’re a contending team getting ready to play after a long layoff is one of your leaders suffer an injury. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they have lost their primary backup point guard for up to two months.
Rondo’s Impact on LA
Lakers guard Rajon Rondo is at a point in his career where his primary role is to facilitate and take a few shots a game. Being a vocal leader is as important as anything else he brings. And now, a fractured thumb is going to sideline him for six to eight weeks.
Rondo has hit a game-winner this year, and though his production has not exactly been amazing, he has plenty of positives to add to the team. He was averaging five assists in a bench role, in just over 20 minutes a night. He brings playmaking to the table and a guy you can lean in to come through.
There is no question that his mentorship has paid off for Alex Caruso. Caruso has been solid with consistent minutes this year, and will now likely assume the role of backup point guard with Rondo not playing for a good, long while.
Unlike Paul George’s “Playoff P” moniker, Rondo’s nickname of “Playoff Rondo” is very real, and he will be missed. Whenever Rondo gets the chance to perform in the playoffs (save for his half-year in Dallas), he is up for the task. And his production is tremendous. He does play more minutes, but still.
Rondo has appeared in 105 playoff games, averaging roughly 37 minutes per contest. He’s averaged 14 points, six rebounds and nine assists with nearly two steals per contest.
In nine appearances for the Pelicans two years ago, he averaged 10 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists per game.
He had tremendous success in all five playoff trips with the Celtics, averaging 15 points, six rebounds and nine assists while shooting 45% from the floor, with two steals per game. The year they lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011-12, he averaged 17 points to go with seven rebounds and 12 assists per game. He is a serious force.
Playing for the Bulls in 2016-17, he suffered an injury prior to Game 3 and had to miss the rest of the series. Chicago was up 2-0 with him starting, winning two games in Boston, and he was averaging 12 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists and had seven steals in the games he played. The Bulls didn’t win another game in the series after his injury.
While Rondo is out of the lineup, they will obviously need to replace his playing time and production. They are certainly lucky that they have been playing LeBron James at point guard this year. Or this would have been a far more significant blow.
Caruso is now more likely to play a few minutes per game off the bench. And we might see a little bit of Dion Waiters at points guard. But that would likely be all they needed.
James is probably going to play 38 to 40 minutes a game in the playoffs, with a few short stretches as a forward. So, when that happens, they’ll likely be set.
Caruso was somebody that already had some closing experience for the Lakers. Frank Vogel liked to have him in the game in the fourth quarter for his defensive ability. He was also a huge fan favorite, which will do nothing negative to his stock. He stands to benefit the most.
Potential Return Date?
A six-to-eight-week absence would mean Rondo could return sometime between Aug. 24 and Sept. 8. If his team is still alive, this would be during the second round of the postseason. So, the hope would be that he misses round one and can then return shortly after.
Rondo can make a difference in the Lakers’ title hopes. Los Angeles is considered the favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook to win the Western Conference with +165 odds as the NBA joins other sports in returning to action. The Lakers are second to Milwaukee in odds to win the NBA title at +260.