It’s impossible to really understand the complexities of Rajon Rondo as a player and as a person. Perhaps the greatest mystery regarding the Dallas Mavericks point guard is his horrendous free throw shooting numbers, dropping to a historic low of 32.3% this season.
There is only one player in NBA history to play at least 50 regular season games and average at least 1.1 shots from the line and do worse than Rondo is doing this season. Who? Chris Dudley, in the 1989-1990 season with 31.9%.
The thing about Rondo is that he’s a guard. Not all guards and “small” basketball players are Mark Price, Reggie Miller or Steve Nash, but it’s rare to see point guards do so poorly from the line.
But Rondo isn’t a good shooter from anywhere. After shooting better than 45% through his first seven seasons in the NBA, things have been quite different over the last couple of years. His shot has gotten worse, shooting 40.3% from the field last season and 41.6% from the field this year. This isn’t just a case of numbers that will later come around to their average. Rondo seems afraid to take shots on some nights, perplexing when it comes from a person who is known for being arrogant and ultra-confident about his ability and value.
Rondo was never a threat from beyond the arc, but he’s actually doing OK this season. Maybe it has to do with working alongside Dirk Nowitzki and the man who turned him into one of the best basketball players in the world, Holger Geschwindner. He’s shooting 31.2% from beyond the arc. Nothing special, but not awful, and better than his career numbers.
So what is it from the line? maybe we’ll never know, but if this isn’t fixed soon, “hack-a-Rondo” is going to be used quite often in the upcoming playoffs. Rondo, for most of his career, was a 60%, sometimes better, shooter from the line. A torn ligament in the knee and coming back from it couldn’t have been the cause.