We've all seen it happen countless times. The 24-second shot clock is about to go off, and Rajon Rondo buries one of those "NO NO DON'T SHOOT… YES NICE SHOT!" jump shots. Without fail, the commentary comes as quick as Rondo's game in the open floor: 'He must lead the league in made jump-shots at the buzzer." If it's on Twitter or being in the Garden, everyone says the same thing and it's pretty difficult to argue against that theory.
With that being said, if you were to guess the average amount of time remaining on the shot clock when he takes a jumper, what would you guess? More often than not, it seems like Rondo only takes jump shots when he has no other choice. He's the Celtics' floor general and he has the ball often, racking up assists and as he describes it "calling a good game." Lately however, he's been taking more jumpers, trying to establish another weapon to fight against the "sagging" tactics created by Kobe Bryant and the LA Laker defense. But how many of these jumpers come under duress? Is he actively looking to shoot, or is it purely out of necessity?
After a tough last-second loss to the Dallas Mavericks last week, WEEI.com's Paul Flannery pointed out how Rondo is taking more mid-range jumpers (16-23 feet) and making more of them (45%) than any other season in his career. While box scores and game logs do a fantastic job of logging the number of attempts and distances of shots, I was curious to see when he was taking them. The results (with video) are after the jump.
Admittedly, this is a rather small sample size to work with, but it is indicative of Rondo's recent tendency to take the jumper.
- In the past five games, he has taken a total of 22 jumpers (16-23 feet as well as threes) but only connected on 5 of them (23%).
- The average time remaining on the shot clock when he's taken the jump shot is 9.8 seconds. Not as low as many would assume, but still under 10 seconds. Some of these have come at the end of quarter situations.
- 12 out of the 22 jumpers have been taken with 10 seconds or more, with 10 seconds being the lowest and 22 being the highest. More often than not, these have come off of set plays, resulting from kick outs from teammates with his feet being set. He has made 1 of these 12 jumpers, good for a meager 8.3%.
- The remaining 10 out of 22 jumpers were taken with less than 10 seconds on the shot clock, either under duress, or in rhythym. He made 4 of those 10 shots, skyrocketing his percentage from 8.3% to 40% (again, a small sample size but a little telling).
Statistics can be very helpful and assist in telling the story, but when you combine it with video to break down the scenarios in which the shots came from, then you can make a better judgment. Below is the breakdown of each shot with a brief video compilation from Rondo's jump shots from the past five games.
@ LA Lakers
1 – 10s (miss baseline)
2 – 15s (make off a high screen, top of the key)
3 – 20s (miss, off a screen in transition)
4 – 13s (miss, left wing Kobe sagging off)
5 – 4s (make, left wing contested while dribbling, Kings defense was good here)
6 – 10s (miss, baseline off a feed from KG, passing out of a soft double-team)
7 – 8s (miss, top of the key off a Quis swing pass)
8 – 15s (miss, top of the key off a soft KG double team kick out)
9 – 3s (make, high post step back over Kidd)
10 – 12s (miss, 2-3 arc play, Pierce kick out after attempted drive to the hoop)
11 – 5s (miss, baseline feed from Ray in rhythm)
12 – 13s (miss, right wing wide open in rhythm from a Pierce pass)
13 – 12s (miss, right wing after Ray gets triple-teamed on a Floppy play)
14 – 2s (make, left wing, 2-3 arc play Pierce passing out of a triple-teamed drive)
15 – 3s (miss, straight away three, Magic defended Floppy well, had no better option)
16 – 22s (miss, baseline after KG offensive rebound, pass to Rondo, wide open)
17 – 4s (make, left elbow after pump fake, high screen from Davis)
18 – 2s (miss, right wing three, just dribbling out first quarter clock)
19 – 1.2s (miss, no shot clock, rushing up the court at halftime buzzer left wing)
20 – 6s (miss, left elbow step back after Bobcats defended the Floppy)
21 – 12s (miss, left wing after Pierce slash and kick)
22 – 14s (miss, final play of game baseline three after the play was designed for Ray who drove and kicked it out)
So maybe Rondo really only shouldshoot with the time expiring on the shot clock. Although this could be evidence that he's much better off taking them when he doesn't need to think about it. Either way it's an aspect of his game that is still developing, just like his free throw shooting (which he's made 17 of his last 20). If he could get either of these to even a respectable level, he will be indefensible.