6 Things That Will Change for Boston Celtics with Rajon Rondo as Team Leader
Naturally, as with any shifting of leadership, there will be some things that will change. Under a new administration there are policy changes as well as physical alterations. While not a complete overhaul, the introduction of Rondo to the role of Team Leader is something noteworthy.
Paul Pierce is still the first option to close out a game, and Kevin Garnett is the defensive backbone, but Rondo is now just as much of an influential figure. At 26 and entering his seventh NBA season, all in Boston, this is the perfect time for Rondo to step up and expand his duties.
As point guard, this is the natural progression of things. Doc Rivers is going to be entrusting him with more than ever, and this new-look team will mold around him. Things won't be the same as in the past, and that is a good thing.
The Basketball Will Be Moving Fast
This is more of a general philosophy change given the new personnel Boston has acquired.
Still, it will all flow from Rajon Rondo's ability to push the ball and make split-second decisions. The fast break will become much more of a strength for the Celtics than in years past. With more minutes for youthful players, Boston will be running more often than not.
Rondo's leadership will be mostly shown through his on-court play, and the transition speed will be the most noticeable change. Boston was famous for a one-man break last season, in which Rondo would furiously charge the ball up the court only to have to pull up and let the offense set up, or risk battling one-on-three.
The issue was no one had the speed to fill the lanes with him. When Rondo has no passing options, he becomes far more limited as a player. Even with the passing options available but unused, he becomes deadly as an offensive weapon thanks to his arsenal of ball fakes.
Courtney Lee, Jeff Green and Avery Bradley have the ability to move on the break, but it is Rondo's leadership that will institute this roster-wide change.
More End-Game Options
If Rajon Rondo is to be the new leader he is advertised as, then certain scenarios should start playing out differently.
Namely, the Paul Pierce step-back buzzer-beater.
This has been Boston's go-to attempt to win a game at the buzzer for roughly 14 years. It has a long history of both success and failure, but with the coupling of the age of Pierce and other options on the court, it may not be the best course of action.
Obviously, you want to live or die with the ball in your best scorer's hands. Therefore, it does still make sense to give the ball to Pierce, but not the way Boston has been going about it.
With eight or more seconds remaining on the clock, Rondo can still do things. At this point in his career he is finding open men for easy shots better than anyone in the NBA. Boston should instead put its faith in Rondo being able to create something rather than Pierce dribbling out the clock.
Yes, his final move should be a pass to Pierce more often than not, but just the threat of something else happening will take some of the concentration off the captain.
At this point, everyone who watches the NBA knows what is coming in that situation. However, with Rondo's increased leadership role, he will get more responsibilities in those clutch situations.
More Sound Bytes, More Honesty
We've come to find out recently that Rajon Rondo behind the mic, is gold.
With no Ray Allen in town, Rondo has joined the trio of most important players Boston media must seek out. He may even have leap-frogged Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. While both of those players offer more experiences, it is Rondo who is going to give better, and often more controversial, insight.
Rondo's assuming of leadership duties means we will be getting solid sound from him night in and night out. Sometimes this is a good thing, other times it is not so great for a player's image. Either way, this is going to mark a change in the media relationship.
Rondo has a bone-dry honesty to him that the media and fans are still trying to fully figure out. After six seasons, Rondo has come to the forefront as a true NBA superstar. More people will have eyes on him this season than ever before.
As fans of the game and the coverage of the game, more Rondo in the media is always very exciting.
More Opportunities for Youth
Doc Rivers' reported willingness to shuffle starting lineups and the overall Boston rotation tells you all you need to know about the new Celtics.
According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, Rivers has been toying with new ideas for his starting unit thanks to the versatility offered by the Celtics roster.
This is a testament to the leadership of Rajon Rondo more than anything else. Rivers' trust in his point guard is great enough that he will be more willing to play with lineups and shuffle the deck. The head coach has a reputation for not allowing his young players, particularly rookies, to see a lot of meaningful minutes.
Rondo's advanced role with the team is freeing up his coach to play some of these newer young guys because the system is more wide open. Boston is moving away from a stodgy, half-court team that had a generally set-in-stone rotation. With an open, flowing offense that likes to run, the young players can thrive.
The leadership Rondo provides through his own play will help bring along the rookies and newcomers on the fly.
Team Could Become One-Directional
Rajon Rondo has a reputation for raising his game on national television or against other elite point guards. This attitude is a double-edged sword though.
While it is great that Rondo can raise his play for important games, with him as a leader, this doesn't necessarily benefit the team. Experienced leaders like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are up for every game and can preach that honestly to their teammates. To Garnett in particular, it doesn't matter what month it is or who is in the visiting locker room, you are getting 110 percent.
The fear right now is that Rondo has a one-track mind, and that mind is on the Miami Heat and the Eastern Conference final. Back-to-back tough playoff losses to LeBron James and Co. has clearly left a sour taste in Rondo's mouth.
As a leader, though, Rondo cannot be solely focused on that series or team. Rondo must adopt the Pierce and Garnett mantra of "one game at a time" and bring his full effort every night. In order to lead by example for a full season, Rondo has to put his Miami tunnel-vision on the back burner until the time is right.
Boston Becomes a More Marketable Franchise Today
On top of a name lending itself to creative rhymes (see left), Rajon Rondo makes the Celtics a more marketable franchise in the landscape of today's world.
The average age of NBA fans appears to be getting younger by the year and the influx of youth watching the game is flowing to the league's premier stars. Of the top jersey-sellers last season, only two members of the top 10 were over the age of 30. Rondo was No. 10, and should only move up the list with his new leadership assignments.
Rondo gives Boston something it has lacked recently.
He appeals to a younger demographic and is the figurehead of a new generation of Celtics fans. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen haven't really been commercial entities for some time. Pierce can still do those historical NBA commercials, but as far as national reach goes, Rondo is unique to this team.
This obviously means more eyes and more young people with a rooting interest in the Celtics. The media will be paying far more attention to Boston throughout the season just because of the name Rondo made for himself in the 2011-12 postseason.