Rajon Rondo's Keys to Getting Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics Back on Track
The 36-year-old is averaging 13 points and 7.7 rebounds to start the year while shooting just 46 percent from the field. Last season, he shot 50 percent from the floor to the tune of 15.8 points and 8.2 boards per game.
The Celtics' defense isn't helping matters either, allowing 101.7 points per game compared to 89.3 from last year, but the fact of the matter is that the problems start with the offense.
Rajon Rondo is the only one producing consistently while guys like Garnett, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee are struggling. The men who should be contributing a lot on offense just aren't making their shots and it's hurting the team.
While it's still early and the Celtics will surely turn things around, this slow start is definitely something of a concern. Keep in mind, this is the team that made it within one game of the NBA Finals last year and made enough moves during the offseason to get that far again in 2013, if not further. However, to keep that goal within reach, Rondo and head coach Doc Rivers need to make some adjustments on offense.
No. 5: Utilize Jared Sullinger
The Celtics drafted Sullinger out of Ohio State with the 21st pick in this year's draft despite his injury history, but his performance in the NBA Summer League showed that he was just fine. He averaged 12.5 points and 8.4 rebounds, using his 6'9", 260-pound frame to do some fine work in the paint.
However, his NBA career thus far has been underwhelming. In just three games, he has averaged four points and five boards over just 18.7 minutes per game. The fact is that this young man has both the size and the talent to compete on the professional level, yet Rivers nor Rondo are giving him many opportunities.
Keep in mind, Sullinger's build is very similar to that of former Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis, now of the Orlando Magic. If they can utilize the former Buckeye as they did Davis, then the offense will start to look more diverse.
No. 4: Get Brandon Bass More Involved
During last season's playoffs, Bass showed great toughness under the basket and showed great prowess in going after rebounds and providing size under the basket. This impressed GM Danny Ainge so much that he re-signed Bass to a three-year deal.
However, he's averaging 10 points and 7.3 rebounds and is only attempting just under eight shots a game while shooting 48 percent from the floor.
The fact is that if the Celtics want to start competing, a little more faith needs to be had in Bass. Ainge clearly likes the guy because of his work ethic, and he has the size at 6'8" and 250 pounds to be a force in the paint, despite being on the smaller side for a power forward.
More importantly, Bass was a decent scorer at LSU, averaging 15 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in two years in college.
If a way can be found to get him more involved on offense, then the Celtics will become a force in the paint and potentially be tops in field-goal percentage.
No. 3: Set More Perimeter Shots
The Celtics had a busy offseason, bringing in shooters Courtney Lee and Jason Terry to replace former star shooting guard Ray Allen. Thus far, both men have struggled in their new environment.
Lee has averaged just 7.3 points while shooting just 25 percent from long range, while the 2009 Sixth Man of the Year in Terry has averaged just 8.7 points per game. Even worse is that he has shot just 38 percent from the field and 29 percent from three-point land.
Now, while less than half of these men's field-goal attempts have come from beyond the arc, the fact of the matter is that they're shooters first and aren't the types to drive the lane often. If more perimeter shots can be set for them and they take more attempts from mid-range or even long range but just in front of the arc, chances are that the shots will start falling eventually.
With that, of course, will come an improved Boston offense.
No. 2: Make Kevin Garnett Work
In an interview with BostonHerald.com, Garnett addressed his struggles to start the season:
"Doc Rivers is Doc Rivers and I’m Kevin Garnett, and I have to find a median between that," Garnett said today of the Celtics coach, who is forever on the center’s case to look for his own shot more."Within the flow of offense I pick and choose,” he said. I have to use my discretion and IQ to when to be aggressive at times. If Rondo says something to me I’m a little more immediate. I like to get the ball moving. My flaw is that I’m too unselfish if you want to call it that. I think it’s absurd, but that’s who I’ve been. I have 18 years in this now, and it’s got me here. It’s November, I’ve never been a fast starter, but I’ll find a balance.
Simply put, Rivers and Rondo need to remember that Garnett is Garnett and that he's got great size at 6'11", 253 pounds. He may be slowing down with age, but he's still got the strength to play center and that means making him stand and bang every once in a while. As good as his jumper is, he can't become overly reliant on it at this stage in his career.
If they can utilize his inside game more, then the possibilities will be endless.
No. 1: Make Rondo Drive the Lane More
Rondo is having a career year thus far, averaging 15.3 points, 12 assists and 1.7 steals while shooting an astounding 56 percent from the floor. However, there is one aspect of his game this year that needs to change if the Celtics are to get back on track.
As of now, Rondo is averaging 2.7 free-throw attempts per game, his career average being 2.8 attempts per contest. Careerwise, he is weak from the charity stripe, shooting just 61 percent, so it's understandable as to why he would want to avoid being there.
More importantly, it's understandable why Rondo would resist driving the lane regularly as he is one of the NBA's smallest at 6'1" and 186 pounds and puts his body at great risk when driving to the basket against much bigger guys.
However, the fact of the matter is that Rondo's free-throw shooting isn't going to improve unless he takes more attempts from the line. With his speed and athleticism, he's only cheating his team, not to mention himself, by not drawing more shooting fouls and getting his team some free points.
Yes, the prospect of him taking a foul shot is scary but as was mentioned before, he won't improve there unless he gets more chances. Once he stops relying on his newfound perimeter shot so much and gets back to going for layups, the Celtics will find themselves back on the road to playoff greatness.