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Player Preview: Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo (Courtesy of NBA.com)
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).

  • One option would be to dish it to Allen for three, because if the opponent double-teams Allen that means you leave KG, Pierce, or Perk wide open.
  • Rondo could also look to Pierce to set up the play too. Rondo would pass to Pierce, and Pierce would slash toward the hoop, either electing to pass to KG down low or to dish it back to Ray Allen for the outside shot. He could also elect to shoot.
  • Or, he could just dish it down low to KG. KG would toy with the defense, and maybe he can set Perk up for an easy layup.

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:

Player MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Rajon Rondo 32 8.5 2.0 5.3 1.75
Key:
  • MIN = minutes per game
  • PPG = points per game
  • RPG = rebounds per game
  • APG = assists per game
  • SPG = steals per game

About KC Downey - @kc_downey

KC is the "head coach" of the Sports of Boston, LLC blog network. Follow him on Twitter: @kc_downey

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Discussion

11 comments for “Player Preview: Rajon Rondo”

  1. [...] Shamrock Headband    Knickerbocker chronicles part 2      Sports of Boston   Player preview  Rajon Rondo           Wages of Wins   All Rookie Wins [...]

    Posted by Celtics 24/7 » Blog Archive » Today’s Links 9/7 | September 7, 2007, 8:41 am
  2. No way Rondo has that bad of numbers this year after playing 32 minutes a game!! Look at what he started doing at the end of the year. You can’t factor in what he did in the very beginning as a rookie who got very little playing time. Just looking post ASB he scored 8 pt, got 4.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists, averaged 2.06 steals, and had a FG% of 43% in about 30 minutes a game. And in the very last month where the job was all his, he played 36.9 minutes a game and got 13.6 pts, 5.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.5 steals, had a FG% of .55 and shot .72 from the free-throw line.

    I say look for more minutes played, more points, more steals, and more rebounds then your projections. And probably more assists because assist totals go up a lot with experience and better players around you. Rondo has both.

    Posted by Dan | September 7, 2007, 10:54 am
  3. OK, he’ll have no need to rebound with KG and Perk and the other big guys up front. the rebounds will be around 3 per game. I’ll agree he could have more assists and maybe more steals….but he’s a second year player. You expect far too much from Rondo.

    Posted by KC | September 7, 2007, 9:39 pm
  4. Look for rondo to go all 90 ft enough to average 10-12 pts pergame with assist around 6-8 pergame Oposing teams will have to play strong defense on the 3 all-stars thus romdo to the Rim. his man can layback if he wants but rondo has the speed and skills to get past him to to have a shot at the rim or to dish to an open player downlow or outside. He is going to make this season a fun Celtic season. Tommy will love him more than walter.

    Posted by Freeease1 | September 7, 2007, 10:16 pm
  5. 2 rebounds after getting almost 4 last year? Ha.

    5 assists per game? Ha.

    1.75 steals? HA.

    So yeah, bad.

    Posted by westthebest | September 7, 2007, 10:21 pm
  6. should be more like 7 assists per game, 6.5 rebounds per game and 2.3 steals per game.

    2 rebounds is WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY off. that will be more like his season low.

    Posted by bobby | September 8, 2007, 12:35 am
  7. OK. Rondo is not Jason Kidd. maybe I was a little off with the rebound total…but I wouldn’t expect more than four. and steals? so he’s the next Baron Davis, huh? i think 1.75 may be a little low…but fine how about 1.9? what’s the difference? More than 5.3 assists? So you guys think that Rondo will score 10-12? Why would he need to score? He can’t shoot so well.

    I’m not a Rondo-hater, i’m just a realist. I’d love for him to score 10-12 and dish out 6 or more assists…and if he does its an auto-NBA Finals berth for the Celtics.

    Posted by KC | September 8, 2007, 2:30 am
  8. I also must say I think Rondo can be like a Tony parker-type…not a Jason Kidd-type. Wake me up when 6’1″ Rondo grabs 6.5 rebounds… what about Pierce, KG, Perk and any big man?

    FYI Tony Parker had just 5.5 assists and he’s a seasoned veteran. While I agree the Spurts offense is run different, I don’t believe that Rondo is going to be the focal point of the C’s offense. That would be way too much pressure, and why would they put it on him? they have THREE superstars to shoulder the load. His job is to just carry the ball up, set the offense initially, and pass the ball. Some shooting, little rebounding required (any extra is a bonus).

    Posted by KC | September 8, 2007, 2:55 am
  9. I think everyone is looking at his potential more than anything else.

    Posted by Dave | September 8, 2007, 7:14 pm
  10. this guy is amazing i watch him play all the time im in 7th and when i watch i wanna play like him in school ball he is my idol …..:)

    Posted by kathada (z.b) | September 29, 2010, 3:44 pm
  11. For all you haters a few years ago…let’s see how accurate I was.

    His final numbers:

    29.9 MIN, 10.6 PTS, 5.1 AST, 4.2 REB, 1.7 STL

    So, I was a little low on points and rebounds…but I definitely nailed it on the head. Just thought I’d say I told ya so!

    Posted by KC Downey | February 19, 2011, 1:48 am

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