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Rajon Rondo: Regression… or growing pains?

RedsArmyAdmin April 11, 2011 Uncategorized 10 Comments

Rondo pensive Five assists. 

Rajon Rondo.  The guy who pulls up on wide open lay ups to feed another teammate and pile up the dimes, had five assists yesterday. 

It's actually the fifth time in the past month that Rondo has had five assists.  You'd have to go back to November of 2009 to compile the next list of five games in which Rondo's had five or fewer assists.  For the season, Rajon is still second in the league with 11.2 assists per game, but he's 4th since the All Star break with 9.4 per game.

We all know something is up.  We can all see something's not right.  I read it in the comments where people are using words like "regressed" to talk about his game.  People see him taking steps back.  

But maybe he's not.  Maybe this is the opposite.  Maybe these are growing pains. 

The source of our Rajon ire is the fact that we're looking to him as our future.  He's the guy that's going to carry this team when the Big 3 are gone.  He's the guy that's going to have to suddenly morph from distributor-Rondo to do-everything-Rondo.  We want to see the brilliance.  We want to see him take over.  We want to see a little bit of Derrick Rose in him. 

But that's not something that can be done overnight.

Look at his last 10 games.  He's making 44% of his jumpers from 16-23 feet… up from his season average of 40.5%.  He's making 65.5% of his free throws, up from 56.9% for the season.  So his jump shooting is getting a little better.  So that's clearly not a regression.  He's scoring more than he has all season (13.3 ppg vs. a 10.7 ppg season average).  If he's scoring more, it stands to reason he'll be passing less. Add to that Ray Allen's massive struggles and of course Rondo's assists will be down.  Not "five assists in a game" down… but down nonetheless.  I'm not sure if this is Rondo's transition to more of a scoring guard… but it certainly can be.  And on a team full of guys who still feel like they can be the primary scoring threat, that might not be going over so well.  

And then there's the Perkins trade… which everyone wants to keep bringing up.  There is no doubt that bugged him.  He even said so in an interview with Jackie MacMulllan.  Maybe the first real dose of "this is a business" hit Rondo harder than he expected, leading to more of an adjustment than he expected.  

But that's gone now.  Perk is happy in OKC and I'm sure he's told Rondo as much.  I know Rondo is going through a weird "can't make an easy layup" phase.  In April, he's shooting 47.4% at the rim.  By contrast, he's shot 75% in February.  In March that dropped to 56% and now he's here.  Very odd for Rondo.  There's no way that's going to last.  And neither is his reluctance to actually get to the rim.

Yes, there is something up with Rondo, but its nothing we haven't seen before.  Meanwhile, there are aspects of his game that are improving, which make Rondo's struggles a very nuanced debate.  It's not any one thing that's getting to him.  It's everything.  It's adjusting to the way teams are playing him…. while keeping the Big 3 happy… while guarding super-fast guards… while dealing with guys on the floor that don't quite know where their going… while dealing with whatever injuries he has… while transitioning to being THE leader of the Boston Celtics. 

It's easy for us to say "jeez Rondo, get your head out of your ass."  But for a 25 year old playing with all that on his mind… and yeah, doing it without his best friend around to help him chill out a bit… it's difficult.  But it's part of growing up in the NBA.  And Rondo is growing up.  The transition is happening now and sometimes its going to be painful.  What we've got to do is be patient. 

 Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

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  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p014e8767b37c970d noodles

    Growing pains. Needs to manage risk, have faith and lead. His assist depend on rebounds and baskets. J.O’s rebound numbers Tot = 0. Def=0, Off=0. Put Delonte in at the 5 at least he’ll contribute.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/licktheglassitol Classless

    You’re cherry picking numbers from the last 10 games. Take his entire season into account:
    FG% .475, worst since his rookie year
    FT% .568, worst of his career
    PPG 10.6, lowest since 07-08
    He’s regressed, clearly. Free throw % has nothing to do with leading your team, growing pains or any other excuse you can dream up. It’s all on him and his work effort, which clearly is non-existent for free throws.
    FG %, you can’t argue because he’s taken the lowest amount of FG’s since his rookie year, yet he’s WORSE shooting the ball. This tells you he’s scared to shoot (which we can all see it). Now it’s snowballing into he can’t make a simple layup. He’s getting high % shots, but either blows them or kicks out a pass like an idiot.
    So he shoots even less than he used to, but when he does, he worse at it than ever. If he’s fouled, he’s even more inept at the line than ever before. He’s regressing and it’s sad to see.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/viva2811 viva

    Like the post. Finally some understanding for this guy. All that resting starters, when you really think about it, he is someone who really needs some days off, considering all of the factors. Fresh Rondo would bring the best out of Celtics.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jnel6 titletown

    Good post. Explains it like it is. He is failing himself and the team for any one of those reasons.
    The only one that is excuseable is if injuries are plaguing him.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/karibisha Karibisha

    Ainge traded Perk/bench to solve one problem but ended just creating another problem. Ainge needs to step up and assume some responsibility for this mess.
    Like your posted view. Rondo to be the best needs to learn how to continually adjust his game esp w chged roster but not sure about his mental toughness when things get real tough on the floor.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jmeedu James Eisenman

    He’s a disaster at this point. Give him time to adjust? Are you kidding me? He’s been there for 5 years. He plays one good game and you guys see “the old Rondo” instantaneously. The only person he seems to be able to guard decently is Lebron. Probably because he’s slower and does every move from one-on-one basis. And I know you cherry-picked the free throw numbers to have included one game where he took and made a lot of free throws because, in the last several games, he hasn’t gone to the line much and he hasn’t broken 50%. My comments all seem to be one-sided on this site, because Rondo has been a train wreck for the last 30 games. He gets torched on defense nearly every game, he can’t make a free throw and he doesn’t like to close. I think his bad free throw shooting created this reluctance to go to the hole with power. He doesn’t want to finish hard because he’s afraid to be fouled and screw up the free throws. So, he tries all this cutesy crap as he approaches the rim. All to avoid actual contact. Plus, I want grab him through the screen when he passes off on fast breaks and open drives, at the last second, either for a cheap assist or due to his lack of killer instinct. Rather than close with an easy lay-up, he risks a pass that could be intercepted, that could go awry or could result in a worse shot than the one he already had. He didn’t spend the off-season working on his game, like Larry did. He doesn’t shoot 500 free throws every day like Larry did. And he either walks the ball up court or slows it down as he approaches the lane, unlike every Celtic from Sam to Cousy to Jo Jo, to Tiny to Ainge and DJ. if he’s the future, I may have to just relive the past!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/the_bantam the_bantam

    “The source of our Rajon ire is the fact that we’re looking to him as our future.”
    I won’t disagree with that but the only reason folks that I speak with are pissed is that he’s an elite talent and not playing like it, nothing to do with the future. The C’s are (were) built to win this year, all of them are playing like shit, so it falls on the QB first.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/andreas24x7 Andreas24x7

    I think its possible he is bitter and jaded because of the trade..consciously or subconsciously..and every time you see them on the bench together KG is in his ear about something..so hopefully it will get through..i mean it would be hard for him to look at 4 hall of famers (with Shaq) on the floor and not want to win one with/for them. While Rondo is hasnt been playing well..I look at Doc also for con’t to play him big mins..if he isnt producing..like yesterday where he was wild with his passes..why not play carlos or delonte with the starters..i get the feeling doc is afraid to alienate him even more at times.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/trsjr91 BleedGreen34

    Rondo’s not having growing pains its just teams are realizing how to defend him. i mean hes shooting percentage might be up but thats bc NOBODY PLAYS DEFENSE ON HIM. Its 4 on 5 the whole game. Then hell walk up the ball and start the offense at 15 seconds. hell make dumb one handed passes for no reason which will lead to turnovers that are uneeded. He doesn’t go to the outlet on every rebound and is constantly coming back to the ball killing the fast break which is by far his best asset. He is always getting burned on pick and rolls and is always getting burned on man to man d bc he reaches way too much. I HAVE TO BLAME THE COACHING FOR MOST OF RONDO’S FAULTS. DOC NEEDS TO STEP IT UP AND ACTUALLY CRITICIZE RONDO AND TELL HIM WAT HE”S DOIGN WRONG AND TOO STOP DOING IT INSTEAD OF JUST SAYING IT”S RONDO BEING RONDO OR HE”S HAVING AN OFF GAME. BY LETTING HIM DO THESE STUPID IDIOTIC THINGS THAT HE DOES (I MEAN HOW HARD IS IT TO GET A LIGHT JOG UP THE COURT INSTEAD OF WALK) IT KILLS THE CELTICS OFFENSE. people praise rondo for his high assists numbers but you have to rmeebr he has the best supporting cast in the nba of which those players are all scorers. put rondo on a bad team with less talent around him and i believe hes nto even a top 10 point guard in the league

  • http://profile.typepad.com/bkm191 Bkm191

    i think that this is a good post, it kills me how everybody can give an oppinion from the sideline, we dont know exactly what rondo is going thru, whatever it is it’s SOMETHING, and its true he didnt have the luxury of growing up at home in private he had to grow up in the public, when you are young you think that you are invincible but the older you get realize that you are not, rondo has alot on his young shoulders, everybody is talking about he’s the future, he has to satisfy the vets, teams have realized how to play him, he’s going through an adjustment period. if d.rose lose in the playoffs and rondo has another good playoff season everybody will be talking about rondo again, its all media hype, d.rose is doing good right now, but do you think that he will be in the spot light forever no, even when kobe has a bad game he’s called a ball hog, then when he wins the game he’s the best player in the league, i have no doubt rondo will get through this, he’s just got to re-ajust his game, everbody think they got a answer for him, think again, every game rondo like playing is a mind game (connect 4, cards, math) i would be willing to bet the farm that he’s coming up with something as we speak! he’s had more injuries this year then he has had his whole career, im sure that he’s afraid to get hurt again, he’s just got to get in the game and “and make it do what it do” and not think about it, just play ball like we all know he can. and last but not least, yall i have had his foot problem before and it aint no joke, rondo plays if off well, i have gotten out of bed in the middle of the night and tried to put pressure on my feet and have fallen to the floor, for that reason right there i sympathize with him, you cant have much explosivenss with this,im sure this is why he cant keep up with these guys right now, but it’ll get better and everybody who had something negative to say will be eating their words! GET BETTER RONDO~