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.
With a focus on shooting during his lengthy rehab, Rondo has added a more consistent perimeter jumper to his arsenal, one that has forced teams to rethink their strategy against him in the pick-and-roll.
Before, defending Rondo on the pick-and-roll was simple: Go under and take away Rondo’s ability to drive and create, where he was clearly most dangerous. Teams sagged off Rondo and challenged him to shoot jumpers and he wasn’t consistent enough to make it hurt.
Now, even as he shakes the remaining rust two-plus months into his comeback, Rondo’s confidence in his shot has him downright daring teams to go under in the pick-and-roll.
So there is a concerted effort by Rondo to make defenses respect him as a jump shooter. From what Brad Stevens can tell, defenses are starting to react accordingly. It’s no longer a given that a defender will automatically duck under a pick and allow Rondo the shot.
“It changes game by game, and it’s not necessarily a lack of respect,” the C’s coach said of coverage on Rondo. “Sometimes you just pick your poison; we do with a really good player. But you are seeing it more and more that they’re going over, because he’s also real good at getting them lower when they go under, and our bigs are doing twice as good a job as they did earlier in the season of setting the right angles with their screens.”
“It’s kind of like, pick your poison,” Rondo told the Globe recently. “But for the most part, for my entire career, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but teams have to continue to probably go under [the screens] because if you go over, there’s no way you can probably defend me.”
Of course, Rondo isn’t exactly lighting it up from long-range lately, 2 for 20 on 3-pointers in his last six games. Yet he’s made enough that defenses have had to at least acknowledge him, whereas before they would prefer to leave him open.
Adams said being an aggressive shooter is still a fundamental difference for Rondo.
“Rondo is first of all a player who has always been a pass-first guy,” Adams said. “And he’s played on very good offensive teams, talented offensive teams. Shooting has kind of been a secondary thing.
Rondo’s jumper is in an interesting place, and we have to look at the shot chart to figure out why.
There’s a lot of red there. He’s not really shooting particularly well this season.
There’s just enough green on there to do one important thing: make him a threat.
And that’s all Rondo really needs to be. It would obviously be nice to get that shooting percentage up a lot higher. But when we’re talking about a guy whose contract will largely be earned penetrating and dishing, the threat of a jumper is all he needs.
Think of it this way: When a guy walks into a convenience store with a hand in his sweatshirt pocket, does he really need a gun, or just the threat of one, to rob the place?
The threat of Rondo’s jumper exists almost solely because of those two green spots at top of the key, and the left elbow. That 14 for 22 from there is enough to make defense have to suddenly make a decision. And when you have to decide things against Rondo, that’s when he can burn you. The yellow portions of the chart just add a little support to that. You’re not going to let a guy just sit there and shoot 5 of 12 on you. But the green spots are where the pick and rolls happen. That’s a big deal.
If he’s shooting a big number from a spot where teams will get burned from just going under all the time, then teams will stop just going under picks all the time (and as you see in those linked stories, they have already begun to mix up their coverages).
What would really hammer the point of all this down is if Rondo could finish at the rim this season. If he could shoot his normal 55%, he’d have about 20 more makes at the rim. Think about how much more damage those 40 points could have done in some of these close games.
For now though, the threat of Rondo’s shooting is having the expected effect. Teams are changing their defenses to better contain Rondo, thus making sacrifices that will open up other players. Someday, with better shooting from Rondo and better players around him, this will be a much bigger deal. For now, though, we’ll just be happy that this process has begun.
The days of just going under pick and rolls, daring Rondo to shoot are going away. Teams know that, at this moment, it’s not guaranteed he’ll burn them if they try it, but teams aren’t willing to take the chance that this will be the day that he does. For now, that’s enough.
Page 2: Celtics players will have a LOT of summer reading
Barring a miracle run to the postseason, a dozen regular-season games separate the 2013-14 Celtics from their offseason, when things should really get interesting.
But coach Brad Stevens said preparation for the upcoming summer began long ago.
“When that time comes, we’ll have exit meetings and we’ll have a plan for each guy individually and it’s not something that we’ve started recently,” Stevens said. “We’ve been working on that all year.”
[…] But when he coached at Butler, Stevens and his staff went to great lengths to give players material that would help guide offseason workouts, according to Matthew Graves, a former Butler assistant under Stevens and now the head basketball coach at the University of South Alabama.
“For each player, we would put together a DVD that included all of the shots that they attempted throughout the season,” Graves told the Globe in a telephone interview. “For some guys, it was obviously a lot longer than others.
“From that video, they had a sheet of stats that said, on catch-and-shoot 3s, they were this percentage, or on the right block, they scored on this percentage, or on lefthand layups, they shot this percentage.”
I love this because it’s a great look into what life as an NBA player can be.
Imagine walking in to sit with Brad Stevens after the season is over and you get this DVD and a 3-ring binder full of all the shit you can’t really do well.
Stevens: “Hey Jeff, nice season, glad we had this experience together. Here’s your packet.”
Green: “It’s just one sheet of paper… it says tie your right hand behind your back today and don’t untie it until September.”
Stevens: “Yup, by September you’ll have full use of your left hand and you’ll be so angry, you’ll play like that asshole KG always wanted you to be. Have a nice summer.”
This is how you get better… at anything, really. Just repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. Every day at the gym, every day on the court… keep your good skills sharp, and train your body to do the stuff it couldn’t do before by doing it over, and over, and over again.
And this is where Brad Stevens’ reputation for intense preparation kicks in. I wish I was there to see the looks on these guys faces when they get these handouts.
Life in the NBA is glamorous, but it involves a ton of hard work that we never see. This is part of it.
I thought this was just fun. On the left is a Photoshop image I made when Brad Stevens was hired. On the right is a photo from the Nets game.
The rest of the links:
Actually, there are no other links. Slow day.