During this recent eight game winning streak, after a brief and bumpy two weeks that followed the longest winning streak in a fabled Celtic championship-filled history, one thing is as crystal clear:
As Rajon Rondo goes, so go the Boston Celtics.
It's hard to imagine that the Celtics team that last season relied on their veteran Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce now relies on relative youngster Rondo.
Last year, Rondo was universally recognized as the potential week link in the Celtics starting five. His team was so unsure of him that he was benched late in games for fear his flawed game would blow it in crunch time.
This year, the Celtics are demoralizing teams with leads of twenty to thirty points by the third quarter. Rondo is still sitting on the bench early, but now it's for a new reason.
He is now the lead surgeon—the dissection done is done and the patient dead, killed by a hundred cuts to the hoop Rondo can take a seat and let the others do the clean up.
Doc Rivers says "Run, Rondo, Run" and the rest of league cannot catch up.
Rather than slow the pace of the offense for the sake of the veterans, which would play into the weakness in Rondo’s game, Rivers has the Celtics play a freewheeling push-the- pace style.
This new style is leaving the opposing defense scrambling and scurrying back to their assignments as Rondo dribble drives or splits and spots-up, dishes and dunks, gives and goes, fakes and takes, ally-oops and lays-up.
He's fun to watch, but tough for opponents to guard. Rondo has become a reliable scorer not with jump shots, but with quick and easy lay-ins and put-backs that appear so simple and effortless they hide the fact that Rajon is a highly-skilled and intelligent basketball prodigy.
There was a team a few years back that had a history of winning championships and when they brought together a cast of all stars—Shaq, Malone, and Payton—with a talented young guard—Kobe—that prodigy was unable to orchestrate the band to play in tune, so the super group experiment disappointingly failed.
The young Rondo has successfully helped the veteran Big Three to finally find the Promised Land. Now he is showing us that perhaps the best songs are yet to be sung from this band.
Rondo makes the game easy by creating easy baskets and making the game more fun to play. He runs around like a puppy chasing the ball and bringing it to the shooters where they like it.
Once, or if, he develops his jump shot, he could become a devastating offensive player. That fortune is a few years away, and it is either a green-and-gold success story, or a Celtic cross to bear.
Right now, his value is not measure by his fifteen-foot jumper or by his three point aptitude. His teammates right now are some of the best shooters to ever heave it up, and his job is to get them the ball.
As his judgment day approaches, let us enjoy as Rajon frolics and surprisingly rips another rebound from the opposition's grasp.