Over the past few days Ray Allen has been the subject of interviews and articles in the Boston media. In reading all of these I realized that Ray Allen is a big key to this team and to the season. First of all, what was the difference in the Celtics between the time KG said he absolutely didn't want to come to Boston and when he decided that he did want to come to Boston? The only difference was the arrival of Ray Allen. It was Ray Allen's presence on the team that changed KG's mind about Boston. Seeing RA's professionalism and his work ethic, I can see why.
Most people agree that Rondo will be key to this season. It is also agreed that Rondo needs a jump shot to keep the defenses honest. Enter Ray Allen. From Scott Souza:.
Though the seven-time All-Star is expected to be a mentor for many of the team's young holdovers, it appears he has already taken one, in particular, under his wing. ``I was in the gym one morning and I looked over and noticed that (Rajon) Rondo was on the floor even earlier. I asked some of the guys: `What time does he get in?' They said he gets in at 7 or 7:30. So I said that I was going to get in here (earlier) so I could work with him. Because he and I have to be on the same page as the starting backcourt.'' For the next few days, according to Allen, he introduced Rondo to his extensive workout regimen as the pair trained and did a lot of shooting together. ``When he finished he was very tired,'' Allen said. ``I tried to explain to him that is what jump shooting is all about. Being able to make shots in the fourth quarter to win games for your team. Being able to shoot consistently over 82 games.''
Ray Allen is one of the best jump shooters in the league and he puts in the time to be sure he stays at the top of his game. He knows what it takes to be a good jump shooter and teach the fundamentals to others. If anyone can get Rondo to hit his shots consistently, it is Ray Allen.
There isn't a doubt in my mind that after weeks of working out with Ray Allen, Rondo will be a much better jump shooter. From Tanguay on FSN:
Allen said the need for the young Celtic to be in the best shape of his life when the fourth quarter comes around and being able to sprint up the floor is crucial. Plus, the added ability to stop and pop a jumper without his legs letting him down is a vital attribute. Allen went on to state that jump shooting is not just an act but a philosophy and a passion. It is simply not hurling the ball at the rim from afar, but making sure that your entire body is moving as one to deliver the technically perfect fundamentally sound jump shot.
The need for the knees, foot placement, shoulders, head and perfect follow-through to be in line is all a must, but none of the aforementioned can happen unless the body can withstand the rigors of a National Basketball Association season. Allen's main focus with Rondo is to have the young point guard ready to deliver the perfect winning shot with time running off of the clock and a player's gas tank running on fumes.
Not only is Ray Allen mentoring Rondo and helping him to develop his jumper but he is also helping him to get into a routine and to get into great shape. Rondo is a willing pupil and had impressed RA with his work and his maturity.
Though some may be concerned about having a second-year point guard run the show on a supposed championship contender, any concerns from Allen seem to have been tempered in those early morning sessions.
``He is a very smart guy because he asks questions,'' Allen surmised. ``He wants to know what I am doing on game days and what I am doing in certain situations. He wants to be good.
``I think of typically what a two-year player in the NBA is like,'' he later elaborated. ``He is more mature. He is not scatterbrained. He is very excited about the challenges that lie ahead for him and he is trying to get better. There is not a lot of play with him. ... He knows the spotlight is going to start zooming in on him and he has to be ready to answer that call.''
“So we started working on getting up and down the floor,” he said. “I put him through running and then stopping on a dime, because that’s what you need if you’re going to hit that jump shot.
“But I’ve been talking with everyone,” he said.
Garnett, upon watching Allen’s backcourt drills, knew better.
“So today I’m in there and I said, ‘Hey, big fella, come out and workout with me,’ and he said, ‘Hell, no,’ ” said Allen. “But the great thing is that everyone is here. We’re going to need everyone. Leon Powe, Kendrick Perkins [stats] - a lot of these guys are going to have the best years of their careers.”
Ray Allen also appears to be the glue that is going to draw this team together. He is the bridge between the veterans and the younger players and is actively mentoring the younger players. From Scott Souza's article:
Allen said the goal of the past two weeks has been to bring all of the players into the instant clique that he, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett seemed to develop when the wonder trio was united this summer. ``True basketball takes 12 guys,'' he said. ``Even if the seventh or eighth guy on the bench gets injured, you need someone to step into that rotation. You need everybody.'' Allen related an amusing story about the first time rookie Glen Davis walked in the HealthPoint locker room, saw Garnett, and stood ``in awe'' of his new teammate. He added that part of the purpose of the pre-preseason workouts is to get past the star-struck stuff and become more of a team. ``That sense of amazement is great,'' he said of the Davis reaction, ``but at some point you realize that guy over there is my teammate and he's my brother.''
This kind of attitude is so important. He understands the value of team and teammates. He is pulling the team together and doing whatever it takes to get everyone on the same page. There have been questions as to whether the 3 stars can put their egos aside for the good of the team and defer to each other. With Ray Allen, that definitely doesn't seem to be a problem. From the Globe article:
Allen said he has talked to Garnett and Pierce about putting their egos aside in hopes of each winning their first NBA title. Allen said they've also talked about how it's going to take a team effort, and not just three stars, to get Boston a 17th championship. Training camp begins Sept. 30 in London. "We have to absolve ourselves of any animosity or any egos out there on the floor," Allen said. "If we win, everybody will ride together on whatever float it is on the championship parade. We'll all ride together."
And, not only is Ray Allen teaching Rondo to hit his jumpers, keeping everyone's egos in check, and getting the team on the same page, and being the special guest at the media luncheon, he can play too. He has averaged 21.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game for his career while hitting 45% from the field, 40% from beyond the arc and 89% from the FT line. Last season, he averaged 26.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game so he is still at the top of his game. More than anything else, if the Celtics win the championship, we can point to the trade for Ray Allen as the catalyst for it.