2. J.R. Smith
This guy knows LeBron well — too well, almost. Smith played with LeBron in Cleveland and won a championship there in 2016. The Lakers decided to sign him just days before Rondo went down to injury — funny timing.
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Smith, a 34-year-old veteran who has seen plenty of playoff basketball, will have a unique opportunity now with Rondo out. He probably won’t be playing a ton of minutes right away, but he’ll be a guy that will be counted on by those filling Rondo’s shoes.
The Lakers brought Smith in for one primary reason. Surely, it’s because of his ability to catch and shoot at a high level. Occasionally, he’s good for one or two wild shots. That’s just “J.R. being J.R.,” as they say.
That’s why his career three-point percentage of 37.3 percent looks good, but not great. He’s known to make some big shots down the stretch, but those also come with some poor shot selections.
Without Rondo, he’ll be the guy that Alex Caruso or Dion Waiters potentially look to when facilitating. I also believe he’ll see some time on the court with LeBron, who we’ve already established is going to take on an even bigger responsibility without Rondo.
If Smith can help make the other guys look good by simply knocking down his shots, the Lakers will be fine. But, he’s got to do his job. Make those shots. Make his teammates better.