Rajon Rondo: Without a Respectable Jumper, Can He Be Considered Elite?
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It's time to dissect Rajon Rondo again, kids!
That's right, the Celtics most heavily scrutinized player is going under the microscope again, this time in an attempt to discover whether he can be an elite, NBA scorer while still shooting the basketball like a JV benchwarmer.
This past season, Rondo shot an abominable 31 percent from between 10 and 15 feet from the rim. It was by far the lowest percentage of his career from that range, way down from the more than respectable 47 percent he shot from that distance in 2009-2010.
But an even more telling stat regarding his scoring ability and potential lies in his output in the paint. This past season, Rondo averaged just 4.3 attempts per game at the rim and only 1.1 per game from three to nine feet out.
For a player as quick and adept at getting by his man and to the basket as Rondo, these numbers are staggeringly poor.
Some of the reason for this lack of production in the paint may be attributable to Rondo's lousy free-throw shooting. A career 62 percent shooter from the line, Rondo clanked 'em at a career-low 56.8 percent rate last year.
As appealing as it would be to see him improve his numbers on mid-range jumpers, being able to make foul shots at least at a reasonable rate (say, 70 to 75 percent) would go a lot further toward Rondo putting up closer to top-flight offensive numbers.
Of course, Rondo's scoring ability isn't terribly important. In the 2007-2008 season, which concluded with the C's winning their 17th championship, Rondo averaged 10.6 points per game, shot 45 percent from 10 to 15 feet and made free throws at just a 61.1 percent clip.
It should also be noted that in the playoffs that year, he averaged 10.2 points per game on just 40.7 percent shooting while making 69 percent of his free throws. Numbers like that (perhaps the free-throw percentage could be a little higher) will likely get it done as long as Paul Pierce and Ray Allen continue to pick up the scoring slack.
Whether it means more to have Rondo scoring a higher clip once the Big Three is gone is another argument altogether (note: it will).
Right now, Rondo's offensive numbers through the first five seasons of his career are comparable to those of another point guard who's had trouble with his shot throughout his career.
Perhaps you've heard of him. His name's Jason Kidd.
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