Every 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.
Rajon Rondo’s standstill pass fake
People associate Rondo with his fake behind-the-back pass, but that one’s been around for a while. What I haven’t seen guards his size do is use pass fakes from a standstill as well as he does. Opponents play off Rondo to better obscure passing angles, especially after he picks up his dribble. To compensate, Rondo, like a quarterback sitting in the pocket, uses violent pass fakes to shift the defense and open avenues to his teammates.
Paul Pierce’s funky pull-up
Pierce isn’t particularly quick, so how is he always able to get space for that jumper? Part of it is that he sometimes uses unorthodox footwork in his pull-up. The natural motion for a right-handed player moving to his right is to stride-stop, plant the (outside) left foot, plant the right (inside) foot and fire. But Pierce uses his outside right foot to stop his momentum, then uses his left foot and left shoulder to nudge his defender and create space. Pierce ends up firing the shot a half-beat earlier than his defender expects and uses a little muscle in the process.
I personally don’t care that someone did this before Rondo, this ball fake is the move that we all most associate with Rondo. When someone does it, people say “he just did the Rondo!” A lot of people have done or owned something before someone else came along to make it famous.
Still, there isn’t a quarter that goes by without Rondo trying to fake someone out to set up his pass. What makes Rondo’s fakes work… just like any fake, really… is that they could be passes that he’s actually going to make. When you can make passes at such impossible angles, people will fall for the fakes. And when they stop falling for them, Rondo will just make the pass. It’s really a no-win situation for the defense.
As for Pierce… well… Pierce owns the right elbow. That’s his spot. It always will be his spot. They might as well carve out a 4-f00t wide chunk of the parquet at the right elbow when Pierce retires and hang that in the rafters with his number on it. If he takes a step back from there and misses… I get a little surprised. He’s automatic from there.
It’s a very “Pierce” sweet spot too… unassuming and almost boring. A step back mid-range shot? So what? But that’s the beauty of Pierce’s game. He’s always been unassuming. His game hasn’t produced the same level of highlights as others have, but it’s been damn effective for a very long time. He isn’t faster or stronger than a lot of guys, yet he generally gets most of the shots he wants.
It leads to him being underrated by the general public, but, just like his signature shot, you overlook Paul Pierce at your own peril. Because what you think is underwhelming to see is overwhelming in the box score.