The Boston Celtics Are Rajon Rondo’s Team
One of the central questions as the Boston Celtics kick off their 2012-’13 season is whether point guard Rajon Rondo can be the strong leader the organization expects him to become.
Rondo held workouts last month in California with most of the members of the team, including Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. They played pickup games and flag football. This was a big step in the right direction with Rondo bringing everyone together in order to get to know each other, especially with several new players on the current roster.
He helped the team push the Miami Heat to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals with his strong play throughout the series. In Game 2, Rondo dropped 44 points on the Heat in Miami. He was 16-of-24 from the field, including 2-of-2 on three pointers. He was also 10-of-12 from the free throw line and the Celtics nearly beat the Heat before succumbing in overtime.
Rondo’s talent is dazzling on the court with his ability to drive inside in order to create shots for his teammates or himself. The Celtics have been one of the more efficient teams in shooting. This is a result of the growth of Rondo as a point guard as well as the talent on the roster. Rondo is quick with or without the ball. While Rondo can get caught gambling on defense, he can shut down opposing point guards.
The weakness in Rondo’s game has been his shooting. In previous years such as the NBA Finals in 2010 when Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant off on Rondo to clog the lane and make Rondo shoot outside jumpers have been used with effectiveness. If Rondo can consistently perform like he did in Game 2 of the series against the Heat, he can cause problems for teams who choose to continue to use this defense.
The Celtics would not have been able to sign free agents such as Jason Terry, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, and Courtney Lee if they did not want to play with Rondo. Players benefited from the two-time All-Star’s playmaking ability. The Celtics have more players who can handle the ball so they can exploit pick-and-rolls.
Despite Rondo’s past issues with his attitude, he is continuing to mature. There was a time when people questioned Pierce as the captain of the Celtics. Pierce eventually emerged as a strong leader.
Keyon Dooling was a strong influence on Rondo last year and Rondo has been surrounded by strong-minded veterans. He also has one of the best coaches in the league in Doc Rivers. Rondo plays a position that requires him to take charge and put the team into the offensive sets.
This summer, Rondo displayed a side of him that has rarely been witnessed by Celtics fans when he interned for GQ at the Fashion Festival in New York. He showed his interest off the court in fashion, which is something he hardly displays in interviews.
Rondo has been the starting point guard for the past five years. He helped the Celtics win a championship in ’08 when the Celtics knocked off the Lakers in six games. Since the Celtics are traveling in Europe (Istanbul, Turkey and Milan, Italy), the Celtics are hoping they can develop a bond that they had in the 2007-’08 season.
The statistics have improved every year with Rondo leading the league in assists at 11.7 in the 2011-’12 season.
Like Danny Ainge said last week, this has become Rondo’s team. Since this is Rondo’s seventh year with the same team and the same coach, there is no reason why Rondo cannot be an effective leader.