4 Ways Rajon Rondo Will Prove He's a Bona Fide NBA Superstar
Rondo, who already is a triple-double machine capable of taking over games in a variety of ways, is only 26 years old. His best days are still ahead of him despite the heights he's already achieved in his career.
His coach and teammates already know this. To a man, since last year's playoffs, pretty much everyone involved with the Celtics refers to the team as Rondo's team, to Rondo as their leader. Paul Pierce may still be the captain. Kevin Garnett may still be the anchor. But Rondo is that leader.
As he inches closer and closer to superstardom, Rondo still does have a handful of refinements to his game that he must make.
Here's a look at those adjustments.
1. His Jumper
Rondo is a 48 percent shooter for his career, but his numbers in that category have gone down in the past couple of years. In 2009-2010, he hit for a career-high 51 percent from the floor, only to slip to 47.5 percent the following season and 45 this past year.
When you look closer, the numbers go down even further. According to 82games.com, Rondo's effective field goal percentage last season was just 35.5 percent on jump shots. And if you watch him play, you'll recognize that such a mark isn't a surprise.
Opposing defenses sag off of Rondo in a lot of half-court sets. They practically dare him to shoot all the way into as close to the basket as 10-12 feet. Sometimes he hits them, sometimes he doesn't.
It just feels like the misses are more plentiful. Given Rondo's talent and skill set, his ability to see the floor and find open teammates as well as anyone, his quickness in getting to the rim and his excellent rebounding capabilities for a player his size, if he were to master the mid-range jumper—or even improve to the point where he hits them more frequently than he has up to this point—he'd be as complete and dangerous a point guard as there is in the league.
2. His Free-Throw Shooting
In keeping with his difficulties shooting jumpers, Rondo also isn't exactly the best free-throw shooter in the world. In fact, he's pretty bad.
For his career, Rondo hits at 62 percent from the line which, for a point guard who can get to the basket at will, is not good at all. His free-throw shooting difficulties play into how defenses play him in the half court. Not only are they daring him to shoot jumpers, they're practically begging him to drive, even though he's a strong finisher.
Why? Because they want to send him to the stripe.
There have been plenty of occasions in his career when Rondo has appeared tentative to go to the basket for what feels like fear of getting fouled. Driving and finishing is such a crucial part of Rondo's game that he can't afford to be worried about going to the line, especially at the end of tight games.
At the start of the preseason, Rondo made his first 11 free-throw attempts. No one is suggesting he shoot 100 percent from the line. But 75 percent would do just fine.
3. His Consistency
Rondo nets himself a bunch of triple-doubles, and a pretty big number of them are of the spectacular variety.
But too often, he follows up a headlining performance with that of a walk-on.
Last January, Rondo closed out the month by posting back to back 30-point games, one of which included 15 assists and 10 rebounds. Then two games later, he managed no points and two rebounds to go with eight assists.
There are more instances of such highs and lows from last season in Rondo's portfolio—maybe too many.
No one is requesting he put up a triple-double every night. But hoping for somewhere in the middle on a more frequent basis isn't too much to ask for either.
4. His Temperment
There was the time last season when Rondo was ejected from a close game for throwing the ball at an official.
Then there was the time when he barely bothered to show up in a loss at Toronto because he was angry at being left off the All-Star team, posting a forgettable line of five points on 2-of-10 shooting, six assists and five rebounds in 41 minutes.
And who could forget the time he was ejected from a tight playoff game against Atlanta for getting in an official's face and bumping him in the final minutes. He would be suspended for the next game with the C's down 1-0 in the series at that point.
The bottom line is that Rondo can be a hothead and while playing and leading with emotion is a positive quality, being unable to control your temper is not. If Rondo really is the leader that Pierce and Garnett refer to him as, episodes like the ones listed above must be eliminated.