City limits

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Purple & Bold: Lakers’ backcourt proving the experts wrong

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Editor’s note: This is the Friday, Dec. 6 version of the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in the inbox, sign up here.A couple-minute clip of a Sept. 4 “The Lowe Post” podcast resurfaced last night on Twitter – revved up, it seems, by @LakerFilmRoom leaving a fresh response: a GIF of WWE’s The Rock basking in righteous glory.Indeed, it’s a good thing sports punditry doesn’t typically drive real-world policy decisions, because the experts here get it wrong a lot. That’s part of the fun, of course.In this case, The Ringer’s Bill Simmons (a proud Celtics fan) and ESPN’s Zach Lowe were discussing the Lakers’ 2019-20 prospects before the season – and both whiffed badly. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersBegan Simmons: “It looks like my 11-year-old just picked players on 2K and threw a roster together; there’s no rhyme or reason to it. I don’t understand what that roster is.”He took special exception to the thought of a backcourt featuring, among others, Quinn Cook, Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley and Troy Daniels.“I would say that’s a below-average backcourt – God bless Danny Green; like Danny Green – that’s a below-average backcourt,” Simmons said. “Agree or disagree?”Lowe didn’t hesitate: “Agree. There’s not another guy I trust to, like, dribble.”How are you enjoying Shut ’Em Up and Dribble SZN, Lakers fans?center_img To be fair, even Rondo was aware that the stats didn’t tell the prettiest of stories last season, though he cautioned against feeling the urge to “predetermine anything” based on last season’s numbers.About those: Rondo and LeBron James were a little like oil and water in their time on the court together. Their -5.4 net rating as a pair in 602 minutes of work last season was one of only two negative rating attached to James in conjunction with any teammate with whom he played at least 100 minutes. (James and Moe Wagner were -4.1 in 101 minutes.)So admit it, when the Lakers re-signed Rondo for a second season in purple and gold, you, too, were skeptical. And when Coach Frank Vogel predicted the 13th-year guard would “be in the starting lineup a lot,” well, you probably got downright angsty.But now?In 147 minutes over 12 games together this season, Rondo and James have a plus-16.3 net rating.Rondo – a career 32.1 percent 3-point shooter – is hitting his 3s at a career-best clip, connecting on 50 – of his 2.8 attempts per game. And he’s distributing as well as ever, too, averaging 6.1 assists per game despite averaging only 21 minutes of court time. And he’s been so much better defensively, boasting a 100.9 defensive rating – compared to last season’s team-worst 113.3 rating.And it’s not only Rondo’s stats that support what your eyes are telling you: Together, LeBron and KCP have a plus-6.1 net rating (compared with last season’s plus-2.7 rating), LeBron and Bradley are plus-16, and LeBron and Caruso are plus-19.9 (!) (building on last season’s plus-9.1 net rating).Furthermore, Caruso’s 95.5 defensive rating is third-best in the entire NBA among players averaging at least 20 minutes per game, backing up Vogel’s recent assertion that the Lakers’ fan favorite is “a star defender.”The most telling figure, of course, is 19-3.That’s the Lakers’ record heading into tonight’s game in Portland. Tune in at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN to see “a pretty bad supporting cast” bask in righteous glory.— Mirjam SwansonEditor’s note: This is the Friday, Dec. 6 version of the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in the inbox, sign up here.More readingLet the campaign begin – the Lakers are stumping for Anthony Davis as the next DPOY.Nothing to sneeze at – Even cold symptoms couldn’t cool off the Lakers, 121-96 winners in Utah.Formerly embattled – KCP is changing hearts and minds.Being comfortable with being uncomfortable – It’s working for this season’s Lakers.A whole new level – Lakers show off in a win in the Mile High City.Mike Malone saw it coming – Some experts got it right.Can’t win ’em all – “We’ll be fine” was the feeling after the Dallas loss.Shooter’s gotta shoot – Vogel on Rondo’s suddenly “exceptional” shooting.Sexual assault lawsuit against Walton dropped – Former sportscaster Kelli Tennant is seeking dismissal of her lawsuit against the former Lakers coach.last_img read more