The Boston Celtics have had an interesting season so far, to say the least.
Going into tonight's matchup against the Orlando Magic, they are 7-9 and have yet to prove anything. After lackadaisical efforts in their first 15 games, they held off Dwight Howard and company to 56 points on Monday without several key contributors.
Rajon Rondo, whom Doc Rivers has handed the key to steer this team for the foreseeable future, has missed some time over the past week due to wrist sprain, and veteran forward Paul Pierce has once again taken control of the team.
It's been nice to see Pierce show off the vintage moves NBA fans have been accustomed to seeing over the past 13 years, but there's no doubt that coach Rivers really needs to back up his preseason talk about Rondo.
The sixth-year point guard from Kentucky is indeed the most valuable player on this team, and while the stats may not be in much support of that (record is 2-6 when he's hit double figures in scoring), Boston hasn't given him as much of a chance to dominate in the fourth quarter.
Despite several scoring bursts through the first few weeks of the abbreviated season, Rondo hasn't been a strong closer because Rivers is still in love with his Big Three. Though his jump shot is still questionable, the two-time All-Star has the ability to carry this team, and that's been apparent in many games this season.
Rondo builds on confidence, and he can be a streaky scorer when he gets into a groove. In the season opener against the New York Knicks, he had an amazing stat line, scoring 31 points while dishing out 13 assists.
While they eventually went on to the lose in New York, Rondo showed that he is definitely the player most capable of taking over this team. Pierce will be fighting the injury bug all season, so Rondo needs to be relied on more often.
If he's truly destined to be the face of this franchise for years to come, then that leadership needs to start now.
In order for him to be most effective, Rondo's role needs to be more defined. There's way too much confusion happening on offense when it comes to who's going to be the finisher or closer. At the same time, in some games, Rondo is being asked to score, while in others he's told to distribute.
There's a lot of Allen Iverson potential written all over Rondo, when he's used as a scorer and then creates opportunities for others when defenses collapse on him more, just like in that Knicks game.
At this point, he's the second-leading scorer on the Celtics with 15 points per game, and he's second in the league with 9.4 assists a contest. Though his 3.9 turnovers per game are third-most in the league, that can be a result of not having a defined role.
Rondo is the best player on a team that has a questionable future, but the future of their own young star will also be unknown if his potential isn't maxed out.