Truth be told, this has been Rajon Rondo’s team for the last couple of seasons, maybe even three. The Boston Celtics may still be led by Kevin Garnett, but there’s no doubt for two-three seasons that their hard to figure out point guard is the guy they’re building around, for good and for bad.
Because everyone knows that Rondo is a postseason triple double machine, in a league that makes someone who can have more than two a season it’s king. That’s not something against Rondo, who averages 14.5 points, 6 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game for the Boston Celtics in the postseason.
But what the Celtics really need is for Rondo to start averaging 20 points per game, or at least a lot more than 11.9 during the regular season, like he did last year. Being the assist king in the NBA is nice and well, but with Ray Allen gone (which is pretty much what Rondo wanted), with Kevin Garnett a year older, with Paul Pierce a year older and finding it harder and harder to carry the load as the team’s leading scorer, Rondo needs to do what Doc Rivers expects him to – be a little bit more selfish with the ball, and actually make a jump shot or two, even if he’s not wide open.
The whole Ray Allen affair during the summer was because the Celtics, specifically Doc Rivers, decided this isn’t the Big Three’s team anymore, this is Rajon Rondo’s team. Is it enough to push the Celtics beyond what their squads suggests it can do this year? NBA Finals? One more run at the title for this old bunch? Probably not, but Rajon Rondo starting to score like you expect from one of the best point guards in the NBA, maybe even the best of ’em, is a must.
Because as much as Kevin Garnett enjoys hitting those open jumpers Rondo creates for him, it’s getting harder and harder from him, especially when it comes to delivering in the paint. Paul Pierce’s field goal percentage dropped to 44.3% last season, his lowest since the 2006-2007 season. He’ll be 35 when the season begins. Creating good shots on his legs alone is getting harder and harder, and he too is ever more relying on Rajon Rondo to make up for that, either by drawing attention and helping get easy shots with his passing skills, or by actually picking up the slack with his scoring.
The problem is this – Rondo has to fix that bug in his head which is preventing him from hitting open jumpers. It’s like he can’t do it. There was the 44 points game against the Miami Heat in the postseason, but that was a rare occasion. When Rondo has that 3 extra feet in a standing offense while his defender moves back, he seems stuck. Give him fast breaks with multiple passing options running around him and two defenders closing down on him. He likes the game at a high pace, not when it’s slowed down and it’s up to him to make a mid range jumper. He suddenly hesitates, stuck, like a computer program with a bug.
Can the Celtics run with Rondo? Being one of the oldest team in the NBA when it comes to their key players, it’s doubtful. This isn’t the Denver Nuggets, the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Miami Heat who’d simply love to run all day. This is Rajon Rondo’s team, but he needs to make adjustments as well in order to become the franchise player to build upon for now, with hopes of another long playoff run, and being the franchise player in years to come, once Garnett and Pierce are gone from the picture.