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Your Morning Dump… The brilliantly frustrating Rajon Rondo

RedsArmyAdmin February 14, 2012 Uncategorized 30 Comments

Rajon rondo ball fake against ChicagoEvery morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.

But there's much, much more to Rondo than meets the fans' eyes.  Like a hermit crab that outgrows its shell and needs to find a new one, Rondo has outgrown his role in Boston.  In 2008, he was pretty perfect for the Celtics.  He was too young to demand too many finishing touches and his running mates were still too good to be denied the ball.  They could run, somewhat, with their young gazelle and Rondo could use his superior passing skills to pick targets out at will and watch them finish. 

As time has gone on, though, the rest of the team has slowed down.  And Rondo has been forced to slow down with them.  Kevin Garnett can't beat anyone down the floor, or bait teams into these kinds of alley oops anymore.  Paul Pierce was never flying down the lane on a break, but he's been even slower this year.  And Jermaine O'Neal couldn't get out ahead of the break if he had a quarter-length head start.  For one of the fastest guys in the league, Rondo has to feel like he's running with a training parachute attached to him.

Crossover Chronicles:  The brilliantly frustrating Rajon Rondo

Pardon me as I excerpt from my own piece over at Crossover Chronicles, but with all the Rondo nastiness around here, I felt like we might as well kick off the day with a different side of the story. 

The bottom line… this has gone on far enough.  We've crossed from criticism of a player, which is fine, into finding reasons to bash the kid and scapegoating him.  That whole mess with him leaving the locker room and not talking to the media crossed the line for me.  It's nothing every player in that room hasn't done before. 

Is Rondo flawed?  Most certainly.  But he still only turns 26 in just more than a week, and you're trying to get a speed demon to play half court basketball.  How long can Rondo go on taking 22 shots like he did in Chicago while Pierce takes 10 before the CAPTAIN OF THE TEAM says something about needing more shots? 

Before we go spouting off on Rondo… take in the whole picture of what his, what this team is, and what Rondo (and the team) will be in the future.  I hope that piece lays out the argument well enough. 

On Page 2:  JaJuan Johnson was motivated by Doc's yelling

  Doc rivers yelling during the Toronto game

"I wouldn't expect it any other way," shrugged Johnson, whose soft voice seems as though it could never reach the volume Rivers displayed that night.

"Throughout my whole basketball career, I've always had a coach that was tough on me," Johnson said. "I like it. It does nothing but motivate me. I know some people, when they get yelled at or things like that, they kind of get down. It makes me focus a little bit more, just get locked in. I have no problem with a coach yelling at me or telling me different things. It does nothing but help."

ESPN Boston: JaJuan Johnson answers call

This is one kid I'm starting to get a little more excited about.  He's starting to show more and more promise of being a solid contributor for this team in the future.

Let's see… he can shoot, run, jump, rebound and block shots.  That pretty much covers it, right?

He's still very tentative and he's still learning, so I'm still not expecting TOO much from the kid this year.  But it was realy nice to see a big guy run the break (along with Chris Wilcox) and finish a feed from Rondo.  

Let's hope Johnson soaks up as much of the knowledge from guys like Kevin Garnett while he can.  This kid is going to be alright regardless… but the knowledge available to him right now could make him better, sooner.

Related links: WEEI:  The JaJuan Johnson experience  |  Herald:  JaJuan Johnson hears it from coach 

The rest of the links:

CSNNE: Celtics looking to pick up the pace  |  Globe: C's primed to be contenders  |  MWDN:  C's fighting uphill climb

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  • KY Celts fan

    Thank you, RedsArmy, for being rational while many of your readers move in the opposite direction. Though it is not just your readers. It’s followers of most Celtics related material that I read. And it’s all pretty darn ridiculous.

  • BigMck

    I forgot what it’s like to view the world through green sunglasses.

  • Celtics75

    Utterly shocking that, despite his brilliance in many areas, his poor defense continues to go under the radar. He often leaves his guy wide open from gambling for steals and routinely is beat off the dribble which causes our team defense to suffer. Accumulating steals does not make a good defender – particularly on a team with such a weak inside presence.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mannoperry Perry Manno

    There is no question that before the Perk trade went down Danny did not use recent MLE’s, the draft, or trades for players that comported with RR’s skill set. But in the same breath can the most ardent RR supporter deny he routinely disappears in the 4th quarter, and in crunch time lacks the isolation game and free throw shooting (Sunday withstanding) this team covets? IMHO, RR is a top tier PG, but he is not a center piece in the vernacular of CP3.
    The underlying argument many of us should be having is whether it makes sense to build the next generation around him. We are witnessing the last moments of an aging … nevertheless still potent team. If Danny keeps the roster intact except for a few tweaks we are left with 25m in cap space + PP + RR. Rondo remains the only viable trade chip that can return fair value.
    If you were coming from the perspective of trading him for CP3 or Westbrook than I support that measure. However if you’re not getting a point guard of his caliber in return it’s risky business since we all know RR is more than capable of putting up numbers synonymous with Sunday’s performance. But then again there are nights where he mentally checks out, and he does have a temperamental history.
    So it’s a conundrum of sorts, and while some of us can control their emotions better than others, Rondo is the topic de jour, which in all due respect, is being driven by this editorial staff and corresponding Celtic blogs. We’re just responding to the content as best as we can.

  • Alex

    I really do hope you guys don’t see me as some fairweather fan that’s bashing Rondo for the fun of it.
    I understand that the Celtics are old and Rondo can’t expect his teammates to run the break with him as successfully as him, but it does NOT excuse his crappy defense as of late (seriously, the kid gambles more than a Poker player on crack) and his inconsistency at staying aggressive in most of the games we’ve seen so far.
    The Celtics can play well when Rondo is aggressive. Just look at the CHI game, for example. They played well when Rondo actually puts the effort to be aggressive and move the ball around. When he isn’t doing that, we get the Celtics from the LA Lakers / Toronto games.
    We’ll see how Rondo plays against the Pistons tomorrow. If we see the Zombie Rondo, I’m going to pull my hair right off my head.

  • KGinEastBoston

    You are 100% correct. I noticed that last year he tries to steal the ball then the guard has a lane to the basket for a lay-up or jump shot.
    Hope I dont wait another 20 + years for number 18

  • KGinEastBoston

    I admit I see the world in green….but I think this bench is better then 2008. If the Big 4 stay healthy they can make 1 more run this year.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/redsarmy Red’s Army

    Yes, Rondo takes risks on D and that does frustrate me too sometimes. But don’t overlook all the other great defense he plays all game.
    I hate to put it this way… but he’s regarded as one of the NBA’s best defenders for a reason. Let’s not let a few bad plays color the overall product here.
    It’s like getting on a professional poker player for losing a big hand. In the end, he’s still a professional poker player who wins much more often than he loses.

  • Jerry Sondler

    When your “best” player is a 170 pound PG, who cannot shoot from beyond 12 feet…the situation is hopeless!
    They won in 2008 primarily because a 32 year old, pre-surgical KG led them to the Promised Land!

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

    But the truth of the matter is, there is no reason that he should be regarded as one of the NBA’s best defenders. He’s there because he gets a lot of steals. Dwight Howard gets there because he gets a lot of blocks. Bottom line, they don’t stop their man from scoring, though. What great things can you be doing on defense, if your man is killing us every night? How can he be so good, when the guys he’s supposed to be guarding run free? People here talk about the difference between “honey badger” defense and “one-on-team” defense but the bottom line on defense is simple. You stay between your man and the basket at all times, you remain up close and personal at all times, unless your flash-helping a fellow player or your man shoots like Rondo and you make your man take shots he doesn’t want to take, in ways and places he’s uncomfortable in taking them. This will result in holding him under his normal average, his normal shooting percentage and disrupt his offensive flow. It may not work on Lebron or Kobe – they’re that good. But it works on most and even they can be knocked off center enough that you can beat their teams in a series. The bottom line is that Rondo lays off his man on defense on nearly every possession. He gets a lot of his steals by hooking from behind after his man has beaten him. That’s not good defense; it’s desperation. You may tout percentages off picks or his man scoring off picks but these aren’t accurate stats because they simply ignore the defense of the guy on the other side of the pick and give him credit for it. I want to like him but he irritates me. When he guards Lebron or Kobe, he plays like a demon. He feels challenged by their height and physical superiorty and steps up his attention. When he guards all of the lesser, he plays defender of the free throw line and defender of the lines on the side of the key. It then ends up in this chaos effect, when he gets picked off. This causes an open jump shot or the bigs underneath getting unnecessary fouls. I want to like him but I can’t just watch him with green-colored glasses. Even Larry Bird had flaws but they were not for lack of effort or for ignoring the fundamentals. I’m really tired of bashing Rondo but he just does not sustain his on-court effort. It’s Valentine’s Day and I wish I could love him. He’s just cheated too often. ;-)

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

    Very well put. They all have their moments and we can critique a lot. In the end he’s a diva, but he’s our diva and I’m psyched he’s on the squad.
    Thanks for posting this, even though I’m sure there will be ‘green glasses’ comments.

  • putjinthehall

    these comments suck.

  • paul

    No, Rondo has picked up his man-to-man defense, though I think we can all agree that he ought to pick it up more. But it’s not such an easy call. Rondo’s gambling defense is BRILLIANT. That is why he has been on the all-defense team. He disrupts opponents’ offenses. You just don’t seem to see it. The krazy kids seems to deflect ten balls a game, and with his helping out threat and his reaching D he changes what offensive players do, and that in turn often leads to broken plays, IF the Bigs are active and paying attention.
    Rondo is a brilliant defender. Everyone will agree that sometimes he’s a matador defender and we all hate that.

  • SamR

    His needlessly poor defense. This doesn’t seem to be a physical issue, just that he’s not engaged on defense.

  • Paul

    Rondo is a brilliant defender. Sometimes he plays matador defense, and we all hate that, but his gambling is also very disruptive to opposing offenses.

  • paul

    Sometimes Rondo disengages. We all know that. But his gambling defense disrupts opposing offenses

  • paul

    You totally and willfully ignore the fact that Rondo is playing on a team where he has been expected to defer to the Big Three. What is needed is for that to change. He needs to be acknowledged by the team as its leader. And come on, don’t tell me you don’t know this. Sure you can go ahead and dismiss every damn Rondo breakout game and then claim that he doesn’t have the chops, but that’s negative cherrypicking, and you know that too.
    And I can’t believe you and all your hater pals continue to try to palm off on us these total bs arguments that suggest that we can measure the quality of a player by his numbers, or by adding up his skillsets. This isn’t just wrong; it’s immoral. A player is more than the sum of his or her parts, and you know it.
    So don’t pretend you are just making some ‘rational’ arguments. Your arguments aren’t any more rational because you use additive logic. The opposite is true. It’s a form of compulsive obsession.

  • paul

    So it doesn’t matter to you that Rondo is clearly seriously inhibited in his play by the demand that he defer to the Big Three? You really have no ability to see that a player who is not allowed to spread his wings might have some difficulty being clear about his role, especially when he constantly gets mixed signals about what he should be doing?
    Fine, you go ahead and throw away a player that you and every other basketball fan can see has world class potential.
    But I do agree with you on one thing; if Rondo has another absentee game against Detroit, I’ll pull my hair out

  • paul

    How many balls does he disrupt every game? How many times does he alter an offensive player’s move by attacking off his man? Yes, we all know he plays matador defense too much, but when he has active and aware Bigs defending behind him, the way he plays D makes more sense. A lot of time the Big makes a play Rondo helped set up by forcing the defender to cut when he didn’t want to, or to pick up the ball earlier than he wanted to, or by simply distracting him, etc.. I’m not making excuses. Rondo’s inconsistency drives everyone nuts – though I think a lot of people willfully refuse to see some of the reasons for that inconsistency that Rondo doesn’t control, such as mixed signals from Doc and the Big Three -but he also doesn’t get a lot of credit for a lot of what he does, a lot of which doesn’t show up in his stats.
    And let’s give him a lot of credit for clearly picking up on the Honey Badger defense when he came back. He clearly has tried to blend some of Bradley’s approach in with his own, pressuring his man more and even picking up full court at times. And this is for a player who has far more responsibility on his shoulders than Bradley has. I am grateful that Bradley reminded Rondo of the importance of checking his man, but I’m also glad that he hasn’t abandoned his roaming, gambling 1 on 5 defense approach too.

  • Quest

    Rondo defers to the Big 3 because he is a pass first PG due to the fact he is a poor/inconsistent shooter. His role is to pass to PP and Ray who are the team shooters. To be a leader you have to be consistent and put forth the effort every night whether or not you are scoring 32 pts or 10 pts you still impact the game at some level.
    When was the last time you saw Kobe or Le Bron become disengaged in a game and not give it their all. The problem with Rondo you never know how he is going to play that night.

  • Richard

    Don’t be afraid. Sell high on Rondo and don’t look back.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/redsarmy Red’s Army

    I hope you watch Kobe Bryant and LeBron James every single night like you do Rondo…. otherwise the “when was the last time you saw” argument is invalid. You have to watch players on a daily basis to be able to say that.
    Still, I’ll play along. I last saw LeBron disengaged in…. Game 6 of the NBA finals last year, when his team lost and he was off in the corner doing nothing.
    What did I win?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/redsarmy Red’s Army

    Sure… sell players when they are at their best. Miami should just trade LeBron then? Sell high!!

  • Richard

    In every single interview, the .big 3 and Doc have said this is Rondo’s team. In fact, everyone has thought so since last year. Problem is, he hasn’t been able to be that leader consistently.

  • Richard

    Not true. Everyone has said since last year this is Rondo’s team, but he can’t lead this teamconsistently. His problem.

  • Richard

    Lol, wait! We’re talking about LeBron now? Are we comparing Rondo to LeBron? Please, don’t. It’s not even close (and this comes fro a guy who dislikes LeBron, but, come on.this isn’t even an argument, not even a discussion). Lol, I know you’re pissed about the whole trade Rondo thing :)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/redsarmy Red’s Army

    I'm just saying … Sell high… LeBron's value will never be higher!

  • Antares

    you are leader or you are not, you don’t ask anyone: can i be your leader? do you honestly think that kg or pp or anyother team leader come and ask: can it be my team now, please? i agree with richard- his problem.

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

    Lebron is a quitter. Kobe is not. Evetyone has seen this.

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

    Rondo is not Lebron. Everyone knows this. Have you guys lost your minds?