Rajon Rondo: Why His Inability to Shoot the Jumper Benefits the Boston Celtics

Ethan BackCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2011

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 28:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 28, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Suns defeated the Celtics 88-71.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It's no secret: Rajon Rondo isn't a very good shooter.

The point guard for the Boston Celtics has shot 25 percent from downtown in his career and just 62 percent from the free throw line, including 55 percent this season. These numbers are almost unheard of for a guard.

So how is it that Rondo, while not hiding his ineptitude to shoot the jumper, has been an NBA All-Star for two straight seasons now?

How is he able to shoot nearly 50 percent from the field when, in theory, he should be incredibly easy to guard? Just back off and let him take the jumper, right? Entirely wrong.

Opposing guards struggle to contain Rondo, and he is able to do what he wants almost at will on any given night. The mistake that defenders make is giving him room to operate. Sure, he won't pull up and hit the shot, but with space, Rondo is deadly.

He can create a lane to drive and finish himself or find shooters like Ray Allen and Paul Pierce on the perimeter.

If he acquired a deadly jumper, he probably would be a better player, but without one, Rajon Rondo is just fine—and so are the Boston Celtics, for these reasons...


Rajon Rondo Has Room to Operate

So many point guards in the NBA are incredibly quick and athletic. Rondo plays against the likes of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and John Wall, but he still manages to do damage without a jumper.

Instead of having to deal with these defenders on him like a fat kid on cake, Rondo has defenders that are more comparable to Lindsay Lohan and the male population; like the defenders on Rondo, Lindsay stays away.

While Rondo could easily pull up, at the same time he is given a luxury that hardly any other guards in the NBA are given: room to operate. With a cushion of a few feet, Rondo can see the floor better, pass in small windows and get a full head of steam before driving to the basket.

When Rondo gets into the lane, opposing big men are forced to choose between helping and staying on their men. If they stay at home, Rondo is an excellent finisher at the rim and can make opponents pay. If they do indeed help, the lob pass, which he has nearly perfected, can set up the likes of Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O'Neal at the rim.

It's only a matter of picking your poison; either way, Rajon Rondo will make you pay when given room to operate.


Shooters on the Perimeter Get Open

Ray Allen has played 1,076 career NBA games. Of those, only 286 have been as a member of the Boston Celtics. Yet who has assisted on the most three-pointers in Allen's glorious and record-breaking career? You guessed it: Rajon Rondo.

Had Allen never come to Boston, perhaps his knees or ankles would have given out, and the all-time three-point record would still belong to Reggie Miller. With Rondo, however, Ray has been able to play off the ball and become more of a catch-and-shoot player than the player he was in Seattle, where he ran the pick-and-pop.

Along with Allen, Paul Pierce has shot career bests with Rondo at the point. In 2009-10, Pierce knocked down a career-high 41.4 percent of his threes and this year is shooting right at the 50 percent mark from the field.

Rondo's driving ability has extended the primes of both Allen and Pierce, and he turned role players into clutch members of the Celtics. Just look at the 2008 playoffs.

James Posey came through huge for the Celtics, knocking down clutch three after three. He (stupidly) left as a free agent the following summer and has seen his productivity drop dramatically. Now he is best known for being a ninja.

Rondo has made snipers even more deadly and has instilled confidence in lesser-known shooters by giving them open looks, which they often knock down. How ironic...


Freedom to Experiment with New Moves

Everyone on the court knows that defenders are going to give Rajon Rondo room, including Rondo himself. Knowing this, he has spent time to acquire unorthodox moves and skills, such as his signature fake behind the back pass.

These moves have made him even deadlier than he would be with an improved jumper, and he is always unpredictable to defenders. Will he pass to a cutting Garnett, dish out to an open Allen or finish at the rim himself?

His moves have given him freedom, for he has proven that he can effectively choose any of the three options just mentioned. Once Rondo gets into the lane, the Boston Celtics are almost guaranteed to have a great look at the rim. They owe this to Rondo's unusual, yet extremely effective, moves.


Obviously Rajon Rondo would be better if he could knock down free throws at a higher clip. His inability to shoot from deep, however, has not hindered the Boston Celtics at all and has helped them in the aforementioned ways.

Fans at Kentucky wanted Rondo to get hand-reduction surgery so he could perhaps be a better shooter. The advantages that his huge hands and freakish wingspan give him, however, most certainly outweigh the negatives.