Today we begin the series of player profile articles by the posters from Celtics Green. First up is Rajon Rondo, written by Derrenmatts. Here are Derren's thoughts on the Celtics starting point guard:
Written by Derrenmatts
And now, your starting PG for the Boston Celtics .........
6 feet 1 inches, 171 pounds Attended Oak Hill Academy (high school) 4th Year PG out of Kentucky University Drafted 21st by the Phoenix Suns, draft rights traded to Boston for a future 1st Round pick.
Points 2007: 6.4 2008: 10.5 2009: 11.9
Assists 2007: 3.8 2008: 5.1 2009: 8.2
Rebounds 2007: 3.7 2008: 4.2 2009: 5.2
Steals 2007: 1.6 2008: 1.7 2009: 1.9
As you can see from the stats posted, Rajon has made yearly progress in each of his 3 years in the NBA. What I'd also point out is Rajon's progression in his role with the team. In his first year, he split time with Sebastian Telfair as the starter. In Year 2, Rajon was the shy starter who immediately deferred the ball to the Big 3. In his 3rd year, he arguably made the leap into the Big 3, making it the Big 3 + Rondo.
What can we expect to happen in Year 4? One word: "consistency".
Rondo, from his first year in the league, has been inconsistent. He showed glimpses of spectacular play, but it was mixed in with pedestrian games and spurts of invisibility.
Last year's playoffs was Rajon's young career in a nutshell. Against the Chicago Bulls in Round 1, Rondo proved up to the challenge presented by future All-Star Derrick Rose. It was an epic battle between the two young PG's, as one amazing play after another kept fans on the edge of their seat, wanting more. Rondo prevailed against Rose, and we moved passed the Bulls into Round 2 against the Magic.
Looking forward to seeing more of the surging Rajon Rondo, fans were disappointed as Rondo was outplayed by the lesser talented Rafer Alston. Granted, his ankles were sprained, but this again was the routine in Rondo's game. At times he's unbelievable. Other times, he's anything but.
But this year, expect a consistently terrific Rajon Rondo. The games of invisibility will be fewer and further between. Spectacular games will be bunched together more often. And the biggest reason for the consistency in his game will be something he's been missing his entire life--a jumper.
Once, Rondo's jumper was so erratic that he'd avoid shooting at all costs. Even if he was open and no other option was available, he'd force the ball somewhere else. Last season, with a summer dedicated towards improving his jumper, his shooting form began to smooth out and his release point became more consistent. At times he looked both comfortable and confident shooting the ball (albeit from certain areas on the court--like the baseline from about 12-15 feet away and the elbows extended) But by year's end, the consistency on his form, and his confidence, had pretty much faded away and once again, he became a liability from the perimeter.
There is no doubt in my mind that Rajon has dedicated himself again towards finding consistency with his mechanics, and I'm confident that his hard work will payoff.
He doesn't need Ray Allen type consistency--in all actuality, his true shooting percentage (jumpers only, not counting layups and points in the paint) might be in the low 40%. But if he's consistently hitting in the low 40%, that is still a weapon he's never had before--and this will expand Rajon's game and make him a more dangerous offensive player.
The other reason Rajon's game will become consistent is "confidence". Every year, Rajon begins to see more and more that he IS an impact player, and quite honestly, one of the best players on the court at any given day. In the Chicago playoff series, Rondo saw (as we did) that he's a major factor in determining the outcome of the game.
These kind of moments continue to feed Rondo's confidence, and the more confident he gets, the more aggressive and assertive he becomes. This is good news for us, but bad news for opposing teams.
What I'd like to see Rajon improve on
Rondo is still ironing out his game, and has areas to improve. The top 3 things I'd like to see him get better at are:
1) learn the art of the pull up jumper. This is the single most important offensive move a PG should have down pat. Without it, pick and rolls lose half its effectiveness. With it, defenses are at your mercy (if Stockton didn't have a pull up jumper, he would not be the all-time leader in assists today).
2) perfect the tear drop floater. Rondo is already an effective penetrator, and perfecting the tear drop floater will allow him to exploit soft spots in the defense. As we have seen from other great PG's (Isaiah Thomas, Stephon Marbury, Chris Paul), the floater is a crippling move that stifles interior defenses. Done right, it can't be stopped.
3) stay in front of his man defensively. Though Rondo is among the NBA's top steals men, he often gets his steals by allowing his man to get passed him so that he can swipe at the ball from the behind. Its a hit and miss technique, and quite frankly, I'd rather he just stay in front of his man and prevent him from getting to where he wants to go. Rondo's certainly quick enough to stay in front, but his problem is he's just thinking about getting the steal.
Prediction: 14.5 ppg, 10.3 apg, 3.6 rpg, 2.2 spg and 1st year voted onto the All-Star team.
Along with Devin Harris of the New Jersey Nets and Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, Rajon Rondo will be vying for the top PG spot in the Eastern Conference.
I'm pretty excited to see what Rondo can do this year. Several of the league's top PG's including John Stockton, Steve Nash, and Gary Payton made a big jump in their 4th seasons, and I foresee Rondo doing the same. He certainly has the drive and talent to do so.
It will be tough for Perk to make the AS team, although he deserves to be on it, with Shaq and Howard. They will more than likely make it ahead of Perk even though Perk is better than Shaq at this point of their careers. It is mostly out of respect for his career that they put Shaq on now.