Over the course of his tenure as point guard for the Boston Celtics, we have learned in several instances that Rajon Rondo is quite a numbers guy. He’s been dubbed a math genius and even used his interest and proficiency in math by jumping into a school and teaching a high school algebra class. Back in high school, he was so bored with his math class that he would sleep through them on the way to acing the exams. Even for his return from his ACL injury this season, he tweeted out the length of time in between games… by the total number of seconds.
Rondo is also one to seek out any edge that can help him get a leg up on the competition. According to the NY Times, part of that has been consulting a “personal statistics coach.”
While Zormelo does train players — before the recent N.B.A. draft combine, he worked out a handful of prospects like JaKarr Sampson of St. John’s at a University of Miami gym — his exact occupation is more difficult to define. In addition to studying film and crunching numbers, he also considers himself a mental coach. Above all, he works quickly.
“Before the game was even over, he had everything broken down,” Rondo said. “The text was already in my phone.”
Zormelo also sent Rondo an in-depth email that included a synopsis of what Rondo had done well, areas where he needed to improve and a scouting report for his next game. Rondo was asked if the Celtics were aware that he was seeking constant counsel from someone outside the organization.
“Not really,” he said. “But I’m just trying to get better. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
It won’t surprise me if some fans have an issue with this, but I have to agree with Rondo here: what’s wrong with doing whatever you can to get better? Furthermore, if the NBA’s MVP feels strongly enough about him then it’s at least worth a shot, no?
John Wall was getting guidance from Zormelo during the playoffs, as is Paul George and Durant. If the guy can supply you with some helpful information then it’s a good thing. And if what he gives you doesn’t ultimately help, then it’s a good thing too. That way you know it’s something you at least tried and can dismiss, thus enabling yourself to focus on something else.
Rondo has been in Waltham since the season ended. I’m in favor of being open-minded to anything that could help a player improve their game. I’m sure the organization is too. Sure, they would prefer that everything comes from the people they employ and pay, but this quote from the same piece is also true:
“Ideally, you want to have all the basketball X’s and O’s coming from your coaching staff,” Musselman said. “But I also think coaches are open-minded enough to understand that things have changed.”
Players, of course, have become multimillion-dollar businesses unto themselves, and if one of the people they listen to is someone like Zormelo? It could be worse.
“You might be like, Hey, that guy’s not teaching what I’m teaching,” Musselman said. “But at least the player is working at his game instead of sitting on his couch watching cartoons.”
I doubt Rondo is watching cartoons in his personal time (hmm which ones would he watch though?). Either way, players hire people outside of the organization for several things, including what the article pointed out (chefs, trainers, etc). It’s never a bad thing to be thinking of ways to challenge yourself to get better.