Four-time All-Star and NBA champion Rajon Rondo began the season as the Los Angeles Lakers' starting point guard, but as the veteran served his three-game suspension for his role in an on-court altercation with the Houston Rockets, second-year guard Lonzo Ball took advantage of the absence.
According to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin, Ball will remain the starting point guard even as Rondo returns Saturday.
Rondo has been suspended since the Oct. 20 game against the Rockets:
Los Angeles was 0-2 at that point, and Rondo was averaging 13.0 points, 10.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
With Rondo sidelined, the Lakers were 2-1 as Ball helped the offense find a rhythm. Their lone loss was a 143-142 overtime defeat at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs.
The 21-year-old is averaging 12.7 points on 53.6 percent shooting to go with 6.7 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game since moving to the starting lineup. With Ball running the point, the team is averaging 131.3 points compared to 117.0 with Rondo.
The sample sizes in each scenario are small, but the Lakers are sticking with the hot hand.
After Thursday's 121-114 victory over the Denver Nuggets, four-time NBA MVP LeBron James had high praise for the second-year guard, per ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk:
"He's a very gifted basketball player. Very cerebral basketball player. I think when he's playing aggressive basketball and thinking shot-first, everything else opens up for him. He has some of the quickest hands that this league has.
"A lot of people always try to discredit what he can do offensively, but they never give him enough credit what he does defensively. Every time he's in the lineup, he's getting two, three, four steals, deflections."
The Lakers handled Ball with care to start the season, as he was just a few months removed from arthroscopic knee surgery in July. However, he is no longer on a minutes restriction, and that has Los Angeles coach Luke Walton ready to give the young guard an increased role.
Rondo signed a one-year, $9 million deal after James joined the Lakers. The veteran point guard was brought in because of his playmaking abilities on both offense and defense, not to mention his veteran presence.
While Ball appears to be the starter, Rondo figures to remain a key piece of the rotation. He can lead the second unit while also filling in for Ball when necessary.