Boston Celtics: 9 Ways Rajon Rondo Proved He Is the Man to Build Around
If you want to be a title contender, choose Rajon Rondo. He will get the job done every time.
The Boston Celtics used to revolve around Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, three future Hall of Famers. As the Big Three era in Boston comes to a close, the Celtics must now rebuild their team.
The star point guard shined brightly in 2012, leading his team to the Eastern Conference Finals. Whether it be his passing, scoring or defense, Rondo knows how to create opportunities for his team to win.
With multiple player contracts expiring, the Celtics will surely have an eventful offseason, but here's why Rondo proved he's the man to build around.
Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals was the greatest performance of Rajon Rondo's life, and arguably even Boston Celtics history.
Rondo embodied everything the Celtics stand for — heart, guts and greatness. He produced 44 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and three steals, playing all 53 minutes in the Celtics' loss to the Miami Heat.
He was 16-of-24 from the field, making both shots he took from beyond the arc. He was also pretty good from the free throw line, going 10-of-12.
The performance had players, fans and media praising Rondo as the best point guard in the league, if they weren't already convinced.
Game 2 was a turning point in Rondo's career because not only did he silence the haters, but he solidified his place in NBA playoff history. In the past 26 NBA seasons, no point guard has had at least 40 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in a playoff game.
King of Dimes
All hail Rondo, King of Dimes.
The point guard led the NBA in assists in 2011-12, racking up 11.7 per game in the regular season and 11.9 in the playoffs. In the regular season, Rondo only had 193 turnovers to 620 assists. The man knows how to handle a basketball.
Rondo is the Boston Celtics' first NBA assists leader since Bob Cousy in 1959-60. He deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Celtics greats because, truthfully, Rondo will likely go down in history as a Celtics great.
Head coach Doc Rivers had a few words to say about Rondo's accomplishment.
"He's the best passer in the league. I don't think there's any question about that," Rivers said. "He has the IQ of a coach. He sees things most people don't see. And he has earned the trust of his teammates, which is awesome."
As the NBA's assists leader, Rondo proved he can lead the Celtics team as well.
Budding Jump Shot
During the 2012 postseason, Celtics fans witnessed something they thought might never happen: Rondo developed a jumper.
Rondo was notorious for having a weak jump shot, especially from beyond the arc. His shooting percentage was 41 percent his rookie year. In 2011-12, Rondo had a shooting percentage of 45 percent. While the field goal percent increase may be gradual, the overall clutchness of the shots is not. During the Eastern Conference Finals, Rondo consistently knocked down jumpers—even threes—in the midst of an intense series.
Since he first entered the league, Rondo was known as the guy with the terrible jump shot. That was his one weakness. Now that his main weakness is gradually shifting into a strength, Rondo will be pretty much unstoppable in the near future.
Ringleader of the Show
Rajon Rondo is the ringleader of the Boston Celtics, without a doubt. He was the best player on the team last season, and will continue to hold that position after the Big Three era.
His court vision is unbelievable, as he always seems to set up the perfect shots for his teammates. Rondo has found the balance between passing and scoring. You never see him have Russell Westbrook's problem of taking too many shots. Rondo knows his role and plays it well.
This skill makes Rondo the perfect point guard for the Celtics to build around. No matter what players you surround him with, he will be able to create opportunities for himself and the rest of the team. As long as the Celtics acquire decent shooters, Rondo will make it work.
At 6'1" and 186 pounds, Rondo is certainly not the biggest man on the court, but that doesn't mean he's weak by any means.
While the point guard does miss his fair share of games, he isn't injury-prone, which is a miracle considering how often he gets crushed driving to the rim. No matter how many times he goes down, he always seems to get back up. Sure, there have been times where he stayed on the floor for a few extra moments, stopping the hearts of Celtics fans everywhere. However, he always bounces back with even more energy.
Rondo's minutes are impressive as well. He has passed the 41 minutes per game mark in each of the past four playoffs. Also, who can forget about the 53 minutes he played in Game 2 against Miami?
Rondo's perseverance will carry the Celtics far, especially during intense game situations.
Rondo has a certain level of confidence that is unmatched by most NBA players. While sometimes it may come across as arrogance, Rondo's trust in himself and his skills make him a better basketball player.
The last player any organization wants leading their team is one who second guesses their abilities. In addition, it's important to note that Rondo can back up his confidence on the court.
When looking for a team leader, it's always best to have someone who paves the way through his actions, not just his words. As the centerpiece of the Celtics, Rondo must continue to translate that confidence into dynamic basketball, and his teammates will follow.
While on occasion that confidence may get the point guard into trouble (remember the now-infamous bump?) it can be a very good thing when kept under control.
Puts the Team on His Back
When the going gets tough, Rondo puts the team on his back. We witnessed it multiple times in the 2012 postseason. When the Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen had their cold streaks, Rondo would be right there to pick up the pieces.
One example of this is Game 7 of the second round series against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics beat the Sixers 85-75 to propel them to the Eastern Conference Finals, but the big story was Rondo, who scored nine points in the final 3:30.
With Paul Pierce making a spot for himself on bench due to fouling out, Rondo had no choice but to take matters into his own hands to ensure the win. He ended the game with another triple-double, posting 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Celtics organization can't help but feel good about Rondo's tremendous play in the fourth quarter.
Rondo is the NBA poster boy for triple-doubles. In fact, Rondo has so many triple-doubles that the word is almost synonymous with his name.
He's registered 13 triple-doubles in his regular season career and 10 more in his postseason career. In addition, his triple-double against the Heat in Game 7 of the Conference Finals set a record, as he became the first player in NBA history to have two Game 7 triple-doubles (the other coming against the Sixers in the second round).
Getting a triple-double is no easy feat. The incredible amount of effort Rondo puts in to accomplish these feats is something the Celtics need to hold onto, especially because they won't find that dedication anywhere else in the league.
Rondo's offense is spectacular, but his defense is just as imposing. He's not afraid to take chances on the defensive end, which sometimes turn into steals. It's better to have a player who's not afraid to of the occasional gamble than one who defends his opponent too closely.
Rondo's defense has paid off, earning him a spot on two All-Defensive teams and two All-Defensive second teams in the past four seasons. He also averages two steals per game.
Rondo is one of the better defensive point guards in the league. Having impressive defense to match his offense just makes it harder for opposing teams to contain him.