The Los Angeles Lakers' head coach Luke Walton has informed ESPN's Dave McMenamin that Rajon Rondo will open the season as the starting point guard while Lonzo Ball makes a full recovery from his knee surgery.
Ball told ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk that he "just got cleared" to participate in full workouts, so it appears the Lakers will handle his recovery patiently. In July, Ball underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on the torn miniscus in his left knee. After missing the last eight games of the regular season, Ball took an extra month off of basketball activities to rest and heal, says Youngmisuk.
Lakers' President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson had preached to Youngmisuk back in July about how excited he was to have Rondo mentor Ball. He mentioned how last season, he felt that Ball did not have "anyone to teach him the point guard position." He stated that, "(Rondo) can really take him through how to read defenses, how to play and defend certain guys in the league at the position. Just talk basketball too. So, this is really going to be an important year for Lonzo and I think Rondo will really help him out a lot."
Rondo being announced as the starter adds an interesting twist to the beginning of the Lakers' season, already drawing attention to a team that will be under the spotlight all season long.
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This doesn't seem to be a huge deal since it's due to injury, but it poses a lot of potential questions for the future. What if Rondo were to play tremendously to start the season and the Lakers were winning games because of it?
Rondo was incredible in the Pelicans' playoff run last season. The veteran point guard averaged a playoffs-high 12.2 assists per game to go along with 10.0 points and 7.6 rebounds. That's the most assists per game he's averaged in the playoffs in his career. We're talking about a player who has led the league in assists three times and two more times in the playoffs.
If he were to orchestrate the Lakers' offense to a successful start and really showcase himself as a vocal leader of the team, than what would that mean for the Lakers' point guard of the future?
It would certainly put Magic Johnson in a tough spot to make a switch, but is it even tougher to have Ball come off the bench?
Lonzo had a good season last year, earning an All-Rookie Second Team selection playing in just 52 games. He has built up his body this offseason and made adjustments to his jumpshot that Magic has called "beautiful." The Lakers' president of basketball operations has stated that he believes Ball is "ready for a breakout season", but could Ball reach his full potential as a reserve?
Rondo starting seems to be temporary while Ball recovers, but it's worth monitoring while watching the Lakers early in the season. This could be the first of many interesting headlines to come from Los Angeles this year.
The Lakers play their first preseason game against the Denver Nuggets this Sunday, September 30th at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.