Be sure to check out the original article at http://loscy.com .
If you’re familiar with these parts (yes, you!), then you’re familiar with Loscy’s fondness of one Rajon Rondo. And by fondness, you know I mean a (un)healthy obsession with the point guard’s abilities and style of play. I’m a bit of a gym rat, and I’ve incorporated too many of Rondo’s plays/moves into my game: using my speed and quickness to navigate underneath the hoop and circle out if no play develops, the behind the back fake, senseless gambles on defense… Now, am I really trying to compare my game to Rondo? Well, yes, I am… trying to.
Back to what matters. With 22 games underneath the Celtics’ belt, it’s a wonderful time to give a full evaluation of our fearless floor general, Rajon Rondo. Be fair warned: this is the Rondoness of all Rondo articles: the real mother-load. Prepare yourself. I’m going to tackle three major points: (1) in what ways was my pre-season prediction of Rondo right on, (2) the statistical importance of Rondo’s play this season, and (3) the empirical evidence of Rondo’s play that has helped fuel the current nine-game win streak.
Back in September, I explained in excruciating detail about WHY Rondo mattered the most. It was a changing of the guard, of sorts: the team’s success hinged upon KG’s knee, Pierce’s and Ray’s ability to stay effective throughout a long season, a deeper front-court bench, the continued development of Perk, and of course, what Rondo was going to bring to the table. In my post, I came up with 9 areas of Rondo’s game that needed to improve in order to make him a top 5 point guard.
To read the original article, peep it here . Below, you’ll see the areas that I originally noted as an area Rondo needed to improve, a quote from the original article, and then a reflective tidbit.
9. Improve that outside shooting.
“He needs to develop that knock-down 17-footer from both elbows. If Rondo can even become a 35 percent shooter from these places, then teams really won’t know how/where to guard him.”
Well, Rondo hasn’t turned into Ray Allen Jr. overnight, but he’s knocking down his shot with more frequency. According to 82games.com, funny enough, Rondo is shooting .349 from what would be actually considered a jump shot selection. Rondo is choosing to take his jump shots from straight up near the top of the key and just off the elbows. While he isn’t catching and shooting, Rondo is able to shoot off the dribble when defenders play off of him. He’s making people pay 35 percent of the time.
8. Stop bitching if he’s bitching.
“In a contract year, this is a big decision for Danny/Wyc/Doc to make: is Rondo worth big money? Is he worth the five years/$55 million?”
Yeah, the front office thought he was worth more. Since his re-signing, he’s been butter. And yes, the kind of butter that causes clogged arteries and congenital heart failure. Oh yeah… we haven’t heard a freakin’ lick of a bad attitude from Rondo this season. Was all of it blown up this past summer by the media? You betcha.
7. Be picky/choosy when you gamble.
“For a guy with one of the quickest first steps in the league, he shouldn’t be getting burned by anyone.”
While we are seeing Rondo leave his man less, we are still seeing it. But, his ability to just man up and fight through picks is improving. Oddly enough, Rondo’s leading the league in steals with 2.5 per game.
6. Toughen up.
“Cassell advised him to always pick himself up, shake it off, and cry about it later. Don’t sit on the ground and let the other team know that you’re hurt.”
Yup. This has been huge. Rondo has been knocked around, but he’s not lingering on the floor like an English football diva.
5. Get rid of the floater.
“Because of the quickness that he can get into the paint and the fact that his jumper is not pretty or even effective, he often puts up one-handed floaters while on the move.”
I’ll admit defeat here: his floater is falling. But the floater is different this year: last year he spotted up that floater front on. This year, he is falling away, fading, and drifting. Rondo’s floater this year isn’t straight up and the fading away is almost giving him more time to get himself squared up and set. I like the way the floater is developing this year.
4. Get faster.
“The quickness in movement of hands and feet can only get better in small increments that may not even be noticeable… but Rondo still has the track legs in him. Rondo can get faster.”
Rondo is faster this year. He’s also quicker. Chris Johnson might find out how fast Rondo actually is soon enough…
3. Continue to mix up the half-court ball with up-tempo ball.
“This is something Rondo needs to keep learning: when is a good time to push, and when is a good time to back-off and set up?”
If you have listened to what Doc has been saying, this is one of the biggest areas of improvement from Rondo: when to push, when to set. As opposed to adjusting to an opponents‘ tempo, Rondo is setting the tempo and forcing others to react. Because of his ability to change gears so quickly, it can be difficult for defenders to tell what Rondo will do; this of course plays into our favor.
2. Be smarter.
“A big area of improvement since his rookie days is the ball-handling. Rondo’s getting better at protecting the ball… but not as well as he could be.”
With a respectable 4:1 assist/turnover ratio, this has been huge. Knock… on… wood…
“One game he looks to be a premier point guard, and then another he looks to be enjoying the best seat in the house. One game he is dominant, and another he is happy to be giving high-fives to players that he admired while in his teens (KG, Pierce, Ray).”
I’m not even going to make a comment: in the last few close games during the 9-game winning streak, Rondo has been consistent and ferociously focused. We are seeing more consistency out of him this season than ever before. It’s not a coincidence that the Celts are playing well when Rondo is out to compete every night.
Statistically, Rondo is on pace to have have an overall career year . Rondo’s PER is at a stellar 20.08 , which is good enough for 29th in the league and just behind D-Will. Not too shabby. But a closer look at HOW his stats have translated into wins for the Celtics, we have to hop on over to hoopsstats.com .
Check out a glimpse of how important Rondo has been to the Celtics’ wins:
When Rondo is playing 36-plus minutes, the Celtics are 7-1
When Rondo is shooting over 50 percent, the Celtics are 9-1
When Rondo has 4 or more steals, the Celtics are 6-0
When Rondo has an efficiency recap of 22-plus, the Celtics are 8-0 [ NBA Efficiency recap = ((Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) - ((Field goals attempts - Field goals made) + (Free throws attempts - Free throws made) + Turnovers)) ]
So the basic moral of the story: Rondo plays well translates into wins for the Celtics.
There have been three bits of interconnected empirical evidence that have me beyond excited for what we may see from Rondo as the season progresses.
First , it’s in Rondo’s aggressive play. While Rondo has been hesitant at times to shoot and choose in favor of distributing, we are seeing Rondo constantly on the move with and without the ball. When Rondo has the handle, he is pushing that ball into places to free up guys on the wing and the bigs underneath. When Rondo is eating up the clock, the team’s offense isn’t effective. Take a look at the chart below:
Rondo is most effective when he is aggressive from the time he touches that ball (0-10 seconds) and is least effective when he is running down the shot clock (16-24 seconds). The point production for shots under 10 seconds is egregiously different than the point production when Rondo is just dribbling or holding. The numbers don’t lie.
Second , Rondo is confident. It’s a subtle expression in his eye and a huge swagger in his step. Rondo is growing up, and he’s taking control of games.
Third , Rondo is closing quarters. This is huge. Rondo has the confidence and aggression and determination and grit to close out quarters. The two best recent examples: the Bucks and Wiz. Rondo came alive and played nearly the entire quarter in both games in order to shut down Brenden Jennings and Gilbert Arenas. On the offensive side of each game, he was silky smooth and used his speed, quickness, handle, and court vision to scalpel his way to a clean victory. We are witnessing a point guard that can close a quarter and showed that he could do it in the playoffs… and also for a run of the mill regular season game.
In Rondo We Trust.