Despite fracturing his hand last week, Rajon Rondo continues to help the Lakers progress through their tumultuous start to the 2018/19 season on the sidelines. His veteran leadership, locker room mentality and 13 years of experience have positively impacted several players, particularly the team’s group of younger talent.
“My whole life I ain’t never played with someone like him, or LeBron [James],” teammate Lonzo Ball said of Rondo, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “It’s new to me to just try and follow in their footsteps in a way, just because you can see them get the most out of everybody and the practices are way better than they were last year because they are always challenging people.
“I mean, he’s the best leader that I’ve ever played with — between him and LeBron.”
Rondo was at the Lakers’ practice facility the morning after fracturing his hand, according to Youngmisuk, instructing teammates and being present for guidance when needed. It’s those kinds of traits that helped him win a championship with the Celtics in 2008, and it’s exactly why the Lakers value his services so much.
“Rondo’s a natural leader,” James said. “I think he just was brought into this world to lead.”
Rondo underwent surgery on Thursday and is expected to miss 4-5 weeks. He’s averaged 8.5 points, 6.5 assists and 25.3 minutes in 11 contests this season, playing most of his games off the bench.
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Ryan Anderson has found comfort in his new role with the Suns, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. “When I was first starting off like some of these guys,” Anderson said, “I was ready when my name was called, and I performed and that’s what led to me getting more minutes and I was eventually starting. Those are moments that coaches really notice. If I can bring that out of a guy, I can help work after practice, that’s more important than me playing 10 minutes in a game.”
- T.J. Warren‘s efforts to improve his three-point shooting have paid off this season, Cody Cunningham of NBA.com writes. Warren has connected on 46% of his threes through 14 games. “It’s a testament to the work I put in,” he said. “I really wanted to lock-in and really focus on it. Seeing where the league is going, just wanted to challenge myself and prove to myself that if I put my mind to it, I can do it.”
- The Kings‘ improving culture is a noteworthy change this season, Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee relays. “Winning begins with culture and character matters,” general manager Vlade Divac said. Sacramento has started the 2018/19 season with an 8-8 record.