Rajon Rondo: Very Good, Still Not Great

Bobby Ryan Jr.Correspondent IMay 23, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 14:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics sets up the offense in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs against the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena on May 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida.  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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Rajon Rondo is the future of the Boston Celtics.

What a bright future that is.

During the 2009 Playoffs, Rondo showed glimpses of greatness. In 14 postseason games this year, he posted averages of 16.9 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 9.8 APG, and 2.5 SPG—numbers that went well past his regular season averages of 11.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 8.2 APG, and 1.9 SPG.

Rondo was the little engine that could in the first round.

Matched up with the first overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft, Rondo dominated Derrick Rose in stretches. He posted two triple-doubles in the first round matchup. For most of the series, Rondo was the best player on the Celtics.

However, as well as he played in that first round, he had his down moments too.

In the instant classic that was Game 6, a triple-overtime affair, Rondo struggled mightily from the floor. If you just looked at his stat line of eight points, nine rebounds, and 19 assists, you would think he played great. However, that wasn't the case. He was an awful 4-17 from the floor and 0-2 from the free throw line.

Those two misses from the charity stripe came with about three minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Celtics up by eight. Had he nailed those two freebies, or even one, the Celtics would of wrapped the series up in six games, rather than having to sweat out yet another seventh game.

When the C's moved on to face Orlando, it was assumed that Rondo would have an enormous advantage over the Magic's Rafer Alston.

This wasn't the case.

Sure, he posted numbers of 14.3 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 8.0 APG, and 2.3 SPG, but numbers don't tell the entire story.

During the series, Rondo played intimidated by Dwight Howard. Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy spotted this and chose to double team off of Rondo, creating havoc on the Celtics' best player, Paul Pierce.

Every time Paul put the ball on the floor looking to be aggressive, whoever was covering Rondo would immediately lunge toward Paul. This made Pierce a passer instead of the scorer that he is.

Rondo was put in a position where he could hurt the Magic with timely jump shots and aggressive moves to the basket.

Unfortunately for the Celtics, he didn't do those things. For the entire series, Rondo shot a pathetic 37.5 percent from the field. Only once in the seven games vs. the Magic did Rondo shoot better than 50 percent from the floor. That was in Game Four, where he shot 8-15 from the field.

The Magic, much like the Cavaliers and Lakers in last year's playoffs, exploited Rondo's two biggest weaknesses:

His shooting ability and his confidence in his shooting.

We all recognize Rondo's amazing talent on the floor. There hasn't been a rebounding point guard like him since Jason Kidd in his prime. Rondo is a triple-double waiting to happen.

I get that.

However, Rondo still needs a ton of work on his game.

He needs to understand that sometimes it's not about making the shots, but that just taking them is almost as important. If the other team knows you're not going to shoot, then it's basically like your team is playing four on five, and you can't win like that.

This offseason, Rondo needs to shoot no less than 1,000 jump shots per day. With a player like Ray Allen, perhaps the greatest shooter in the NBA, on your team, there is no reason for you not to put in the hard work.

Being a great shooter isn't easy. There is a reason Ray is so great—his work ethic. Everyone has heard the stories of Ray's workout routine. It's military like. He's at the gym on game day three hours before tip off, putting up hundreds and hundreds of shots.

Rondo needs to do the same.

It's not just jump shots either, it's also his free throw shooting. This season, Rondo shot an awful 64.2% from the charity stripe. That placed him as the worse free throw shooter, percentage wise, amongst all NBA point guards.

That's scary.

Rondo made the All-Defensive second team this season, which is truly a great honor.

While he is as good as it gets in the NBA in terms of playing the passing lanes, he has a bad habit of gambling too much by reaching in on his man.

This habit was exploited greatly by Derrick Rose in their first round series. Time and time again, Rondo reached in, and Rose blew by him. This caused Perkins and the other big men to be caught in a bad spot, which lead to either a layup or a foul, sometimes both.

Rondo has to learn the situation of the game. In the first round his gambling lead to huge games for Rose. Some of those games could have been minimized by playing straight up defense.

Rondo is still young. He just completed his third full season in the league. He will be great. He will be an All-Star.

However, those are all in the future. Right now, he is a very solid point guard. Sometimes, people forget that fact.


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