Love him, hate him or both, there's no denying that Rajon Rondo is a top-five point guard. He's also the most talented player on the Boston Celtics under the age of 37, and his performance will in many ways decide the future of the franchise.
That's why things looked so grim when Rondo suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Boston's January 25 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Somehow, without their point man, the C's reeled off 14 wins in the following 18 games and raised the specter of Bill Simmons' Ewing theory. However, Boston's ensuing 7-16 skid and first-round playoff exit put that theory to bed.
The only thing that is certain is this: Rondo must be at the top of his game to precipitate a deep playoff run for Boston.
Conspicuously, the Celtics offense actually averaged 3.5 points per 100 possessions more when Rondo was not on the court, per 82games.com. That should help indicate certain areas to target for adjustment and improvement next year, because Boston needs all the Rondo it can get.
He's had some time to goof around, but this will be a demanding offseason for the mercurial point guard.