Monday, February 11, 2013

Rajon Rondo. An enigma

Something very strange is going on with the Boston Celtics. It's no big secret that their "old-guard", players like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, are getting a little long in the tooth by NBA standards. The other long-standing member of the "3 Amigos", wily old veteran Ray Allen, bailed to the Miami Heat last year, and BTW, won a championship.

But Rajon Rondo was different. Rondo was only in his 6th year and few would doubt he's amongst the most skilled point guards in the entire league. He could handle the ball with the best of them. I refer to this in past tense because of the major knee injury Rondo suffered a few weeks back which ended his 2012-2013 season. There's little doubt Rondo could have jumped right into the starting lineup of a LOT of NBA teams over the last few years.

Before Rondo went down, the Celtics were struggling mightily to even get to .500. The way they were going, it was certainly no given they would even make the playoffs, let alone go deep into them.

But that's where things get a little strange. Since Rondo's injury, Boston has reeled off 7 wins in a row to climb right back into the thick of the playoff race. Could it possibly be that the Celtics are a better team without Rondo -- then with him? It would seem to defy logic. However, there is a theory being floated as to why this is happening. It's because Rondo was too unselfish. Sounds weird, right? Maybe not, if one looks at the whole picture.

Over the years, there's been no shortage of NBA players that like to shoot a lot. We don't hear the term "ball hog" much anymore, but they're still out there. They'd rather find a way to take a low percentage shot rather than passing the ball to a teammate that's "wide open".

Rondo seemed to be the opposite. Sure, point guards are supposed to distribute the ball, but it was almost like Rondo looked for a way NOT to shoot. Some knowledgeable basketball people have surmised he was more interested in padding his "assists" statistics. And it's not like Rondo wasn't a pretty good shooter himself. He was.

It seems bass-ackwards that a point guard looking to keep his fellow players on the floor involved could be detrimental to his team. But when it comes to the only stat that really matters in the NBA -- wins and losses, the Celtics' record with/without Rondo speaks for itself.

Perhaps that's because Rondo going out forced Doc Rivers and his troops to reconfigure their game. Instead of one guy doing most of the creating, the whole team has become more involved in moving the ball around.

Then again, maybe the Celtics have just been on a freakish little hot streak with the guys pumped up trying to compensate for the loss of Rondo. As the weeks roll on, it's entirely possible that hole in their roster could catch up to them and eventually drag them back down. Who knows?

But for now, it's pretty strange what's going on in Beantown.....

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