View Full Version : ESPN Insider: Rondos Rise

04-24-2009, 09:46 AM
Even as Rajon Rondo was winning a championship as the Boston Celtics' starting point guard last season, critics contended that his effectiveness was purely a byproduct of the team's All-Star trio of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Witness the scathing analysis of former All-Star point guard Gary Payton, who told an NBA TV audience last November that Rondo did not deserve a championship ring because he was merely along for the ride with the Big Three.

Recent results have suggested we should consider the opposite argument: What if the All-Stars around him have in fact kept Rondo from exploring his entire skill set? With Garnett sidelined, Rondo has taken a more prominent role in the offense and responded with the best play of his career. It was evident during the regular season, when Rondo boosted his scoring average from 11.2 points per game alongside Garnett to 13.6 ppg in KG's absence. And during the first two games of the playoffs, the case has been doubly strong. Rondo has been one of the postseason's early breakout stars, following up a 29-point Game 1 effort against the Chicago Bulls with a dazzling Game 2 triple-double: 19 points, 16 assists, 12 rebounds and five steals -- without a turnover -- in 40 minutes.

Last season, his first as a starter, Rondo surely did rely on his star teammates to cover for his shaky jumper and decision-making that was often tentative. Phil Jackson exposed Rondo's incomplete game in the NBA Finals by assigning Kobe Bryant to "defend" Rondo, essentially allowing Kobe to serve as a defensive rover and double-team the rest of the Celtics. Doc Rivers had little choice but to sit Rondo in favor of backup Eddie House for extended stretches.

Rondo hasn't really improved his jumper this season -- in fact, according to 82games.com, his effective field goal percentage on jump shots actually decreased from 42.2 percent to 37.5 percent -- but he has become more adept at covering for it by getting into the paint. Also per 82games.com, 57 percent of Rondo's shot attempts this season have come from the lane, up from 44 percent a year ago. That improved driving ability also means more chances to draw the defense and dish to open teammates, which is why Rondo increased his assists from 5.1 per game last season to 8.2 this season (good for sixth in the NBA) with only a slight increase in playing time.

With the ball in Rondo's hands more frequently, Boston has grown increasingly reliant on his playmaking to create good ball movement. With Rondo on the floor, the Celtics got assists on 61 percent of their made baskets during the regular season. When he headed to the bench, that number dropped to 58 percent. This point was dramatically hammered home when a sprained ankle kept Rondo out for two games last month. In a home loss to Orlando on March 8, Boston had just two assists in the first 17 minutes, finished with 10 and scored just 79 points -- the C's lowest output of the season to that point. The Celtics' offense was more effective at Miami on March 11, but the team still had just 15 assists in another loss.

At the defensive end of the floor, it's hard to make the case that Rondo is dependent on his teammates. After Garnett, who won Defensive Player of the Year in 2007-08 and whose absence has been glaring against the Bulls, Rondo is Boston's most important individual defender. Rondo ranked fifth in the NBA with 3.0 steals per 100 possessions, having led the league in that category while playing primarily off the bench as a rookie. Rondo is also a phenomenal rebounder for his position; only Jason Kidd had a better rebound percentage from the point than Rondo, who collected 9.6 percent of all available misses.

The notion that Rondo is dependent on the Celtics' All-Stars is outdated, a point he is making dramatically during the postseason. Yes, the respect opposing defenses have to pay to Allen, Pierce and (when healthy) Garnett helps to open up the floor, allowing Rondo to get to the basket. At the same time, however, Rondo has created better looks for the rest of his teammates with his own ability to drive and kick. The Boston defense would not be quite as potent without Rondo pressuring the ball, creating steals and contributing on the glass.

Rondo's play, especially since Garnett's injury, has made a strong case that he deserves to share top billing with his more accomplished teammates. When Garnett returns to the lineup, potentially later in the playoffs but more likely next season, it will be time for a nickname change. The Big Four might not roll off the tongue quite as easily, but it's the most accurate way to describe Boston's current group of stars.

04-24-2009, 10:12 AM
Let me be the first to say: who gives a $%@#...

04-24-2009, 12:35 PM
Let me be the first to say: who gives a $%@#...

04-30-2009, 06:25 PM
Let me be the first to say: who gives a $%@#...

uh hes having arguably one of the best playoff series a pg has ever had. 24 10 10 on 51 percent shooting for the series. Thats ridiculous.

05-01-2009, 03:45 PM
Rondo goes up, Rose brings him back down.

05-02-2009, 07:08 PM
Rondo goes up, Rose brings him back down.

he had 9 rebounds, 19 assists and no turnovers in his bad game in this series. Hes still a stud.

05-02-2009, 07:49 PM
It's nice when he's also allowed to give flagrant fouls, bust lips and throw elbows with impunity.

05-05-2009, 06:15 AM
Still has no 3-Pointer and shot FT so great that you could even consider "hack-a-rondo".

How many assists he has each game just throwing the ball to Allen?

His defense is nice. Its always more nice for a player that comes away with severall fouls a game.