Adding Rajon Rondo is precisely what the Clippers need to reach the next level. Los Angeles attempted to acquire the point guard in free agency this past offseason. With lots of movement before the trade deadline, this is one of the most impactful moves.
The 2020 Clippers struggled to put together complete team performances night in and night out. According to NBC Sports, there was an apparent disconnect between the players, proving an evident lack of chemistry. Reports state that stars like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard benefitted from a different set of rules, bothering those who were Clippers long before them. Tension took over the team, leading to their historic collapse against the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs. As a result, Paul George even admitted that the playoffs took a toll on his mental health. Their lack of leadership and focus is a direct correlation to the absence of a true vet.
Rajon Rondo is a strong personality who knows how to command respect from his peers and coaching staff. His style of leadership involves being vocal and acting as a second coach on the floor. George, and Leonard especially, are much quieter in the way that they lead. Skill doesn’t equate to leadership. The Clippers’ newest addition will allow the others to run without the ball, letting Rondo showcase his pass-first mindset.
A veteran point guard who can distribute is what almost every NBA team can use; just ask Lakers fans. In a pivotal Game 2 versus the Nuggets, Rondo led the Lakers to a victory with his knowledge of basketball. He subbed himself in the game to inbound the ball and made a pass that leads to an Anthony Davis buzzer-beater. Davis spoke to Rondo’s savviness:
“It’s crazy because he had a 7-footer on him, and instead of throwing a chest pass that people make and probably would have gotten deflected, he threw a bounce pass where he couldn’t get to it and it landed right in my hands.”
Fulfilling a Need
The Los Angeles Clippers upgraded their point guard position mightily with the move to acquire Rondo. They have consistently had the worst production from this position all year long. Patrick Beverley started the most games at point guard for them, turning in a poor 8.3 points and 2.1 assists per game. Although Beverley is known more as a defender, his defensive win shares are at 0.8 this season compared to a rating of 2.0 last season.
Unfortunately, Patrick missed seven straight contests with right knee soreness, unable to make an impact. His replacement, Reggie Jackson, has not been able to perform that much better. Jackson is averaging his lowest assist numbers since 2012, at only 2.9 a game. A team with superstars like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George must have a high-level point guard play.
The Clippers need a tough point guard who can facilitate, which is why they didn’t mind moving Lou Williams in this trade. Williams is a talented scorer but struggles mightily on defense, watching his points per game and minutes per game drop significantly. Sweet Lou is averaging 12.1 points per game which is his lowest since 2013. Rajon Rondo is a perfect breath of fresh air that will improve the Clippers immediately.
Rajon Rondo’s impact is felt in many more ways than statistics will tell. Rondo is a proven leader that had key roles on two separate championship teams. He has even been given the nickname “Playoff Rondo” for the way his production sky-rockets every time he enters the postseason.
Teams like the Clippers are gearing up for the playoffs because they have a higher standard than the rest of the league. Their success is going to be measured by championships, which is something Rondo is familiar with. The future hall of famer recorded six playoff runs averaging at least 9.0 assists per game. A pass-first mentality is a perfect pairing for a Clipper team with talented three-point shooters. Last year’s Lakers championship benefitted greatly from his presence.
In the 2018 and 2020 postseasons, Rondo shot 40 percent or higher from behind the three-point line. He totaled an impressive 6.6 assists per game the previous postseason in only 24.5 minutes per. When it comes to the Clippers, no point guards can replicate this production. The Lakers benefitted from the newest Clipper’s critical performances, making essential plays in the most significant moments.
Rajon Rondo saved his two best games for the NBA Finals, recording a double-double in Game Two. After that 19 points and ten assist display, Rondo shined in Game Six, which clinched the championship. He stuffed the stat sheet with four steals, rebounds, and assists.
The importance of a floor general who can do it for an NBA team can’t be underestimated. The Los Angeles Clippers obtained an all-around playmaker who will impact the locker room just as much as he affects the game. A championship for the Clippers is becoming more likely than ever with their new addition.