Could Isaac Bonga rescue Lakers bench?
Why the Lakers need to give rookie Isaac Bonga the opportunity to backup Lonzo Ball at point guard with Rajon Rondo out
The Los Angeles Lakers thought they’d solved their bench issues by signing Tyson Chandler to backup center JaVale McGee only to have new bench woes resurface a week later when backup point guard Rajon Rondo was injured.
The loss of Rondo, combined with a minor injury to Josh Hart, has sucked the life out of the Lakers’ second unit and left the team vulnerable any time their starters sit. Luke’s decision to use Brandon Ingram and Lance Stephenson to replace Rondo as Lonzo’s backup has produced poor results with the Lakers losing two and playing poorly in three of the five games played. With Rondo likely out until late December, the Lakers’ bench desperately needs help.
The stats tell the whole story. In the 5 games Rondo has missed, the Lakers’ bench with Ingram or Stephenson playing point has struggled to share the ball and score points. Points per game have dropped from 35.9 points to 28.8 (24th in the league) while assists per game have plummeted from 8.8 to 3.9 (30th in the league). Throw in 5.5 turnovers per game and you’ve got the perfect formula for a bench that blows big leads and creates big deficits.
It also wasn’t surprising that the Lakers did not call up two-way point guard Alex Caruso to replace Rondo and backup Lonzo. While Caruso has averaged 5.3 assists per game with the South Bay Lakers this season, he’s not played a single minute for the varsity this year and has been struggling with his shot, shooting a poor 41.4% from the field and dismal 27.3% from beyond the arc. But with a dozen games before Rondo returns, the Lakers need help now.
Enter rookie point guard Isaac Bonga, who’s been tearing up the G-League with the South Bay Lakers, averaging 15.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 26.3 minutes per game, shooting 48.8% from the field, 48.5% from three, and 85.2% from the line. At 6' 8" with a 7' wingspan, Bonga has the speed, length, athleticism, handle, stroke, vision, and playmaking ability to become an elite point guard or forward in the near future for the Lakers.
The big question is whether Isaac is ready to make the leap from the 18-year old kid who traveled every time he touched the ball during summer league and couldn’t pull the trigger on a game-winning three in preseason to taking over a key bench role as the backup point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers? While that might seem like a stretch, Isaac has already destroyed the Lakers’ expectations and they really have nothing to lose by giving him a shot.
Isaac Bonga is exactly what the Lakers’ bench needs right now, which is a dynamic, big-time talent who can run the offense, attack the rim, shoot the three, defend multiple positions, and make plays for himself and teammates. The Lakers start a 4-game home stand Thursday night vs. the Indiana Pacers. While it would be a big gamble, that would be a perfect time for the Lakers to give Bonga an opportunity to help the team win as their backup point guard.
Lonzo’s been playing 30 minutes to per game, which leaves 18 minutes per game for Bonga to show what he can do as Lonzo’s backup at point guard. The Lakers’ bench needs rescuing and Isaac Bonga needs the opportunity.