Los Angeles Lakers: How Rajon Rondo will kill any NBA Finals chances

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Rajon Rondo is putting Kuzma in difficult positions to score when running the offense. 

On the previous page, we saw how well the two played together. There’s a reason why. What choice did the two have? AD and LeBron weren’t playing and most were predicting an embarrassing blowout. Now let’s make the comparison with the rest of the season.

The OKC game was an anomaly based on the fact that both were going to get big minutes. Now they both average around 20 minutes a night.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ major problem finding a third scorer coincides with how badly Kuzma struggles while playing with Rondo running the offense. For most of the season, Kuz has averaged two-thirds of his minutes with Rondo on the floor. Here’s where the narrative of the Los Angeles Lakers needing a playmaker is created.

While most of the roster has been affected not having a shot creator behind James, with the lack of experience of the NBA game, Kyle has been affected the most.

  • Based on a seven-game stretch when Kuzma came back after his second ankle injury, he’s shot an awful 25 percent from 3 point range with Rondo on the court as opposed to 38 percent when Rondo’s off it.
  • Also, Kuzma had a +17 plus/minus ratio when he plays with LeBron and falls off the efficiency cliff (-11.5) when Rondo was running the show.

It hasn’t gotten any better for the duo in recent games. Let’s look at Kyle Kuzma’s stats the last seven games in comparison to the season.

Last seven games – 23.1 MPG 8.3 FGA (48%) 2.6 3PA (28%) 6.6 RPG 2.7 APG 10.7 PPG

Previous 37 games – 25 MPG 11.1 FGA (43%) 4.7 3PA (34%) 4.0 RPG 1.1 APG 12.9 PPG

Does it seem strange that Kuzma is counted on to be the 3rd scorer with fewer shot attempts? Look at the 3-point percentage. Does this play here show possible evidence of why that is the case?


If you look at this play here, Rondo has the ball so far out that he isn’t even in the picture. Kyle Kuzma is calling for the ball 25 feet from the basket. With five seconds left in the shot clock, Rondo passes the ball with Kuzma forced to take a low percentage shot. Sure it goes in, but these are the situations Kuzma deals with at least once or twice in every game.

When LeBron James is on the floor, the majority of the time Rondo is off the floor. Why? Because there is more spacing in the offense and it allows lanes to drive to the basket.

Notice the game in Houston weeks ago. LeBron James, being the willing passer to the shooters, forces the defense to stay at home. When they do, LeBron goes to the basket and scores. Kyle Kuzma is a slasher so he needs those same lanes to get to the basket.


Here’s where Rondo is hurting Kyle Kuzma. Everyone knows that he can’t shoot the ball from distance. Furthermore, everyone knows that he does not WANT to shoot the ball from distance. Hence the defense collapses and the Lakers are basically playing 4 on 5 on offense.

Finally, with all of the dribbling around the perimeter Rondo does, it leads to bad shots against the shot clock. If they don’t fall, it leads to a fast break for the opponent. The Los Angeles Lakers are amongst the worst in the NBA with transition defense.

But is Rondo play with Kuzma an accident?