(J Alexander Diaz and Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)
Lakers Training Camp Roster Breakdown: Point Guards
The point guard position may be the Lakers’ most hotly contested training camp battle, as a promising sophomore competes against a championship-winning veteran.
Here is a look at what Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo and the rest of the Lakers’ one-guards bring to camp.
Lonzo Ball (10.2 pts, 6.9 reb, 7.2 ast, 1.7 stl, 36.0% FG, 30.5% 3P)
The incumbent starter at point guard, Ball will compete to retain his position at training camp. The 20-year-old was one of the NBA’s most impactful rookies, displaying passing, rebounding and defensive abilities well beyond his experience.
His health will certainly be something to monitor, as his offseason was interrupted by arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. That ailment (along with some streaky shooting) was one of the few major hiccups in a first season that would have seen him rank among the NBA’s top 10 in both assists and steals, if he had played enough games to qualify.
Rajon Rondo (8.3 pts, 4.0 reb, 8.2 ast, 1.1 stl, 46.8% FG, 33.3% 3P)
Rondo has been his team’s primary starting point guard ever since his sophomore season, so he is certainly going to push Ball for that top spot. Entering his 13th season, Rondo is still one of the game’s elite playmakers, having handed out the NBA’s fourth-most assists per game last year.
Rondo was also the engineer of New Orleans’ league-leading pace, which bodes well on a Lakers squad that wants to play without speed limits. One of the most gifted passers of his generation, Rondo is a savant in the half-court, as well, with a change-of-pace slashing style all to his own.
Alex Caruso (3.6 pts, 2.0 ast, 0.6 stl, 43.1% FG, 30.2% 3P)
Signed to a two-way contract for a second season, Caruso is expected to continue shuffling between the NBA and G League Lakers. He spent much of last year serving as the second-unit point guard, appearing in 37 games.
Caruso found a role last season thanks to his defensive capabilities and ability to run the offense. With more playmakers added to this year’s roster, Caruso can help make his case for a spot by showing that he has improved his perimeter shooting.
Isaac Bonga (German League: 6.0 pts, 3.1 reb, 2.3 ast, 1.0 stl, 42.0% FG, 34.3% 3P)
At 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot wingspan, Bonga has the frame of a small forward. However, he joins the Lakers after starting at point guard in Germany’s top league last season.
Currently the youngest player in the NBA, the 18-year-old is certainly a longterm prospect and should see plenty of development with the South Bay Lakers. The franchise invested in Bonga with the 39th pick in this year’s draft, so his progress will be closely monitored in his rookie season.
Joel Berry II (NCAA: 17.1 pts, 3.5 reb, 3.2 ast, 1.2 stl, 39.6% FG, 34.4% 3P)
The Lakers didn’t get to use Berry’s talents at summer league, as he missed the entire event due to an ankle injury. But the 23-year-old was a stud at North Carolina, where he earned First Team All-ACC honors.
Berry was instant offense for the Tar Heels, ranking among his conference’s top five in both 3-pointers and 3-point percentage. He’ll look to show the Lakers some of that spark at camp.
In addition to their crew of traditional point guards, the Lakers also have a couple of forwards who will get their opportunities to run the offense.
One of the greatest passers in NBA history, there are few players as capable of running point as James. In fact, he was second in the entire NBA in assists last season, displaying the ability to direct the offense in both transition and the half court. He was also a devastating scorer as the primary ball handler, ranking in the NBA’s 91st percentile out of pick-and-rolls (1.02 points per possession).
James, Ball and Rondo will give the Lakers three elite playmakers, and the presence of the latter two will allow LeBron more opportunities to play off the ball.
Ingram’s sophomore season truly took off when injuries forced him to play point guard. During that 10-game stretch in February, he averaged 18.6 points and 5.2 assists, while keeping the team’s pace at a soaring level.
Although Ingram may or may not have as many opportunities to run point this season, he will look to expand upon the skills he developed, including pressuring the defense with his trademark drives before kicking out to an open shooter.
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