The Boston Celtics' All-Star PG is an NBA great at the point guard position, but he's right within reach of becoming the greatest. There are certain areas of his game that are undoubtedly holding him back from jumping into the argument for the top point guard in the basketball.
The Celtics are nearing their last seasons with both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce taking the hardwood together. Rondo certainly knows that these two veterans might be his best chance at another NBA title, and it will be with these two players that the Celtics will contend.
Yet if the team wants to take down the Miami Heat in the East, Rondo will have to elevate his game. Working on the areas of his game that need the major improvement would be a surefire way to not only get his Celtics winning games, but become the surefire best point guard in the game today.
These are the three ways Rondo propels himself from great to greatest.
Improve His Defense Against the League's Explosive PGs
2011-12 Stat Lines for Top PGs vs. Rajon Rondo:
Derrick Rose: 25 points, four rebounds, seven assists, 9/21 FGs
Russell Westbrook: 26 points, seven rebounds, four assists, 9/18 FGs
Although these two top-notch PGs played in just one game each against the Boston Celtics last season, it was clear that Rondo wasn't able to contain these bigger, more explosive talents.
Offensively in both of these contests, both Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook were able to dictate the tempo of the game and win the mental battle at the position.
But more important than anything else, both games resulted in a loss for Rondo's Celtics.
In spite of being known for his defense, there is no question that he can improve in this regard. He is as intelligent and gutsy as most at his position, but PGs like Westbrook and Rose simply overpower him.
Once Rondo can elevate his defensive game and stand tough on these incredible athletes, there is no question he immediately joins the argument for the best point guard in the game.
Become a Consistent Shooting Threat for Boston
Game 2 at the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals was an eye-opener.
ESPN First Take star Stephen A. Smith couldn't have said it better himself on his show the following morning:
"He was absolutely sensational, and basically reminding us all that if he had a consistent jump shot he'd probably be the best guard in the National Basketball Association."
The 44 points on 16-for-24 shooting to go along with 10 assists, eight rebounds and a perfect stroke from three-point range was easily the best performance of Rajon Rondo's career. Despite losing the game by four points, words could not do this effort justice.
It was sensational to say the least.
He played every minute of the game and he still nailed two deep three-point shots to close out the contest en route to 44 points. This is the very same guy who fans of the game said can't shoot or lacks a jumper.
Are you kidding me?
What made it all the more impressive was that it was done from midrange jumpers that the Heat were giving Rondo. They continued to allow him to take jump shots and that ended up nearly costing the Heat the OT thriller.
What the Game 2 showing, as well as several others in his career have reaffirmed, is that Rondo does have potential and can shoot the rock. The problem simply lies in his confidence with the jumper.
If he can build off of this performance and give Boston another major scoring threat outside of Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett, the Celtics will be a more complete team than they were last season.
Lose The Shaquille O'Neal-Esque Free-Throw Percentage
He might not shoot them as bad as 52.7 percent for his career, but Rajon Rondo is way too close for comfort.
For his career, Rondo shoots 61.9 percent from the stripe and was anything but impressive at 59.7 percent last season.
Rondo is such a quick, explosive player with the basketball that it is hard for any defender in the league to keep pace with his first step to the basket. Therefore, Rondo can essentially take the ball to the basket and draw fouls at will.
The problem lies in his free-throw shooting.
Rivers is notorious for pushing Rondo to get to the free-throw line, but the problem is that his percentage is as bad as it gets. Not cracking the 60 percent mark for the second year has to be a wake up call for this top-notch guard.
Rondo orchestrates this offense beautifully and has as dynamic a game as any in recent history at the PG spot. But a lack of confidence in his foul shooting is stopping him from becoming the outright best.
More free throws mean more points, more points mean better averages and in turn, a better chance for his Boston Celtics to win basketball games. Given that he can draw fouls at will with his quickness, it is vital that Rondo gets up to speed from the charity stripe.
Make no mistake about it, it seems minimal, but free-throw shooting could be the key to this star's greatness.