We’ve all heard the rumors circulating in print, online, or on the airwaves that Doc Rivers left Boston for Los Angeles because of Rajon Rondo. While the coach may or may not have liked the best player – a great item to debate but something we just don’t know the answer to – on his roster, Rivers probably went West simply to coach a better team.
Rivers has a new point guard, Chris Paul, and he’s being compared to Rondo by Doc himself. He told the Globe what traits they share. Mainly, Doc said, they’re both smart players. The quotes:
It is very similar to Rondo. I mean, Rondo was such a smart player. And so far from being around Chris, they do really remind me a lot of each other in their basketball IQ, and it’s really refreshing. Chris can already recite plays that we’ve run. He was talking about the out-of-timeout plays that we’ve always run in Boston. So, he’s got a keen eye for the game. I tell people all the time that Rondo did the same stuff. He knows as many of the opponent’s plays as the opponent does. Chris Paul has turned out to be the exact same way.
Even the most ardent Celtics fans realize Rondo is no Paul. Aside from specific flaws in his game, sometimes Rondo seems lacking in motivation on the court. To me, Rondo’s strength is his toughness. Really, I’m referring to his physical toughness. Think of how many times you’ve seen him hit the floor hard before getting right back up. No, I’m not counting.
The 2013-14 season will test his physical toughness as he battles back from his torn ACL. Celtics and the team’s fans might finally have a definitive test on his mental toughness, or focus, or motivation, or commitment. In other words, can Rondo prove he is a true franchise player without the safety net provided by Doc and the Big Three?
Rondo won’t have nearly as much help on the court either. Trying to recover from ACL surgery, he’ll return to a roster that barely resembles the Celtics contenders of yesteryear. In fact, zero of the teammates who helped him reach the 2010 NBA Finals remain.