When it was introduced that LeBron James was planning on becoming a member of the Los Angeles Lakers final 12 months, many thought that he was taking the circus with him.
Any crew with LeBron on it often has a media circus from his model alone, however the different Lakers additions that got here with him have been laughed at. Lance Stephenson? Michael Beasley? Javale McGee? Was LeBron attempting to start out Crew “Shaqtin’ a Idiot?”
However there was one signing that made a number of sense – the addition of Rajon Rondo. At the least, from LeBron’s perspective, this made a ton of sense.
Rondo could not have had any long-term safety since his days as a Celtic, and his status as an enigma would make him a very good match among the many different who the gamers introduced in that summer season. Nonetheless, LeBron has seen firsthand what your crew will get once they convey the Rajon Rondo expertise. It’s not all the time fairly, however it will get outcomes.
LeBron would know this as a result of he’s seen Rondo’s efforts firsthand as his opponent. Throughout James’ earlier days with each the Cavaliers and the HEAT, he’s seen Rondo virtually single-handedly swing the momentum of a playoff collection – first when the Cavaliers and the Celtics squared off within the Japanese Convention Semifinals in 2010.
Then, he traded blows with Rondo in what needed to be the best efficiency of his profession when the Celtics and the HEAT battled within the Japanese Convention Finals in 2012.
He’s even seen Rondo beat him in a playoff recreation with only one useful arm (Warning: This video reveals Rondo hyperextending his arm. It’s fairly graphic).
You know the way gamers get criticized for shrinking on the sport’s largest stage? Rajon Rondo is the exact opposite. When he was in his prime, Rondo all the time saved his greatest for when it mattered probably the most. In truth, when he and the Celtics went to battle towards LeBron and whichever crew he was on again within the early 2010’s, there didn’t look like a lot of a drop-off between these two once they shared the ground as rivals.
After all, that sounds bizarre now seeing how Rondo’s manufacturing has taken a dive following his unlucky ACL harm again in 2013. Rajon hasn’t garnered almost as a lot All-Star recognition since then. Plus, earlier than re-signing with the Lakers this summer season, the final time Rondo stayed on a crew for a couple of season was with the Celtics. That dates all the way in which again to 2015.
He’s 33 proper now, and he’ll be 34 when and if the Lakers – who’re presumed to be among the many league’s greatest groups – make the playoffs this season. Not a lot was made about when he got here again to the Lakers for comparatively low-cost worth. With that in thoughts, we could come to remorse sleeping on him. As a result of Prime Rondo could also be gone, however Playoff Rondo has proven himself to be alive and nicely prior to now few years.
Earlier than we begin, there can be no point out of the fallout he had with Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks in that notorious 2015 catastrophe. Any Dallas fan will most likely inform you that they’ve by no means heard of Rajon Rondo. Truthfully, it is perhaps higher that means, so let’s start with Rondo’s tenure with the Bulls.
When Rondo made his pilgrimage to Windy Metropolis, nobody had a lot of an issue with it. He was coming off of a productive season with the Sacramento Kings, so in his case, it couldn’t have damage to place him on a crew that had Jimmy Butler, Robin Lopez and Nikola Mirotic.
However when the crew signed Dwyane Wade shortly after that, the general public laughed in Chicago’s face. There was no means that Rondo and Wade, two guys who even of their prime weren’t famend for his or her capturing, have been going to work nicely collectively. That didn’t cease Chicago from believing that their expertise would overcome their clunky match collectively.
Narrator: It didn’t. The Bulls have been dysfunctional the whole season. They weren’t an terrible crew, however with the expertise they’d on their roster, they badly underachieved. But on the similar time, nearly everybody knew this was coming.
The Bulls in some way nonetheless made the playoffs although their roster make-up proved to make completely no sense. When dealing with the Celtics as an eighth seed, many thought Chicago wasn’t even all for taking part in within the postseason, so this could be a straightforward sweep.
However that wasn’t what occurred. Not solely did Chicago present up able to roll, it took the primary two video games towards the Celtics in Boston. On the middle of it was Rajon Rondo. Rondo’s stats have been pretty much as good as you may count on from him, as he averaged a close to triple-double with 11.5 factors, 10 assists and eight.5 rebounds.
His influence on the court docket was plain. In his two playoff video games, Chicago was plus-29.four with him on the court docket. With him within the recreation, the Bulls dominated on either side of the ground. He performed each bit like the ground normal he had all the time performed. His stats could not have appeared pretty much as good as they did when he was a Celtic, however Rondo nonetheless appeared like the very best participant on the ground.
It’s not a coincidence that after a thumb harm took him out of the collection, the Bulls crashed and burned. With Rondo, they’d an offensive score of 114.2 and a defensive score of 104.7. With him gone, the offensive score plummeted to 98.1 and the defensive score rose to 113.5. With Playoff Rondo, the Bulls appeared extra just like the crew they’d hoped for at first. With out Playoff Rondo, they appeared extra just like the crew everybody thought they’d be.
From there on out, Chicago thought the very best plan of action was to rebuild, so Rondo was left to discover a new crew. Enter New Orleans.
When Rondo signed for dust low-cost with the Pelicans, the response was fairly impartial. It wasn’t hated. It wasn’t beloved. It was a “what may it damage” sort deal.
Very like in his lone common season with the Bulls, his stats have been fairly pedestrian. Averaging eight.three factors, eight.2 assists and 4 rebounds have been merely okay numbers for being the opposite guard within the Pelicans’ beginning lineup.
But once more, when the playoffs rolled round, Rondo gave the New Orleans its cash’s value. Bear in mind when the Pelicans shook the whole league when it not solely beat the third-seeded Path Blazers, however swept them with ease? Rondo wasn’t the one main the way in which, however he did his justifiable share of the harm.
In that collection alone, he averaged 11.three factors, 13.three assists and seven.5 rebounds, and that included performances during which he dished out 17 and 16 assists in two separate video games. But once more, Playoff Rondo had proven himself.
He didn’t have the identical output towards the Warriors, however he did go away all he may on the ground. New Orleans misplaced to the Golden State juggernaut, however Rondo managed to place up a career-high in assists in a playoff recreation (21) within the lone win the Pelicans had over the Warriors. If you’re speaking about Rajon Rondo – whose calling card as a basketball participant is his passing talents – that’s spectacular.
Rondo could not have been as dominant as he was in his earlier 12 months with the Bulls, however he didn’t must be. He was glorious within the position that New Orleans gave him. The Pelicans have been plus-9.7 with him on the ground, which was fourth behind Mirotic, E’Twaun Moore and Vacation. For a man who was getting paid $three.three million, Rajon was greater than value each penny.
Rondo’s productiveness in his two most up-to-date outings within the playoffs – even with all of the setbacks he’s needed to endure – might be why each LeBron and the Lakers have had such a eager curiosity in him for the previous two summers. Sadly, we didn’t get to see LeBron and Playoff Rondo play collectively on this most up-to-date postseason for varied causes.
Crew dysfunction rose from an absence of continuity and countless commerce rumors involving Anthony Davis. Now that each one of that’s behind them, the Lakers have rather a lot to stay up for, with one of many plot strains that’s fallen beneath the radar being the anticipated arrival of Playoff Rondo.
Rondo gained’t be counted on to be the identical participant that went toe-to-toe towards the likes of LeBron, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard in his prime. Then once more, he gained’t must.
He has two magnificent toys to play with beside him with each LeBron and Anthony Davis. They are going to shoulder many of the load on either side of the court docket. Rondo’s expertise and management ought to give LA a greater edge than individuals suppose.
To not go all 2008 on you, but when the Rajon Rondo that we’ve seen comes by for his crew within the playoffs similar to he’s virtually all the time achieved, then the NBA simply would possibly get “Rondo’d.”