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|Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, above, believes he can handle the pressure of being the “leader” for the C’s.(Courtesy of NBA.com)|
Now we’ve entered the previews of the projected starting five. First on the list is the man with probably more pressure than any player on the Celtics. That man is second-year player Rajon Rondo, the starting point guard. After the off-season roster overhaul, Rondo’s situation dramatically changed. Consider this metaphor: last season he was served a McDonald’s cheeseburger with a side of small fries. This season he’s got a filet mignon. He’s like a little kid going from playing with a water gun last year to an assault rifle this year. Alright you get it, Rondo has some nice new weapons at his disposal. The real question is: how will he handle the new cards he’s been dealt? It doesn’t hurt that he has three Aces in his hand…
Allow me to take you through a game situation you may be seeing next season. Rondo takes the ball up the court with the game tied 98-98 and 24 seconds left on the clock (I know, how convenient). He sees Ray Allen on the wing, Paul Pierce at the top of the key, and Kevin Garnett down low. He has four options (if you count Kendrick Perkins who is also hanging near the basket).
OK, I know I just made it sound like the Celtics will go 82-0 because you just can’t double Allen, Pierce, and Garnett. Obviously that’s not true. But, it looks as if Rondo has a lot of options when the starting five is on the floor.
Last season, in his rookie year, Rondo appeared in 78 games (25 starts), and averaged 6.4 points, 3.8 assists, and 1.64 steals in 23.5 minutes per game, playing the bulk of those minutes as the C’s point guard. As the PG, he has blazing speed with the ball and can go coast-to-coast effectively. He’s a good (but could be better) passer and for a 21-year-old he showed last season that he was capable of making good decisions quickly. He had enough skill to be recognized on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
One major knock on Rondo is his underdeveloped ability to shoot the basketball. Last year, his numbers from the field (.419 FG%) were average at best. His three-point FG%? It was pitiful, so good thing he didn’t attempt that many. He went 6-29 from three-point land, good (or bad) for a .207 3-point percentage. One thing that needs to drastically improve is his free-throw shooting, where he went .647 from the charity stripe.
The good thing that comes from all his negative attributes is that he’s only 21 years old. Some young players take a while before they develop and become comfortable with their shot in the NBA. Rondo still has time to develop, but Danny Ainge really shut the window of opportunity for him by compiling a roster that has “WIN NOW” written all over it. There’s no more rebuilding and developing young talent. Basically, Rajon Rondo has to develop and grow up in a hurry. At least if he feels any pressure, he can vent on his blog whenever he needs to.
Apparently, according to a Celtics.com story on Aug. 22, Rondo is confident and ready to assume the role of “leader” on the C’s.
“When I’m out there playing with them, we’re all basketball players. I don’t look at how many All-Star (appearances) they have or how long they’ve been in the league. If they’re in the wrong direction I’m going to speak up and direct them, whether it’s Paul Pierce or an incoming rookie like Gabe Pruitt. I’m just going to have to be more of a leader. Even though those guys have been in the league so long, I’m still going to have to direct them and tell them where to go.”
A Rajon Rondo beaming with confidence is one that is capable of being the point guard of this team going forward. As long as he continues to develop his shot, while acting like a veteran on the court, Rondo and the C’s could be in for a very successful campaign. Expect Rondo to hold onto his job all season, unless the C’s acquire a veteran point guard before the deadline. If Rondo plays well enough and actually shows the ability to a lead a team of three all-stars, then he will not have to worry about his starting job security.
Rajon Rondo’s player projection for 2007-2008: