|Posted by paul on October 11, 2011 at 1:30 PM|
I love reading biographies. My favorite part is always what happens in the middle, where the rising star, whatever field he or she happens to be in, encounters challenges that require them to reach deeper than they ever have before. This is where they either rise to the occasion, or fall by the wayside. That's The Wall. Rondo is facing his own Wall.
Rondo doesn't like to admit it, but everyone, from Barack Obama to the Dalai Llama knows that he needs become a more effective jump shooter. Sebastian Pruitti offers the lastest version of the Rondo Needs A J theory at Basketball Prospectus:
"Toward the beginning of the season, Rajon Rondo made it known that he wanted to average 20 assists per game. In the end, Rondo finished with 11.2 assists per game and a ridiculous assist rate of 79.0...Nonetheless, Rondo struggled a bit last season, especially when it came to taking care of the basketball. Rondo saw his Turnover Rate jump to 24.3, the highest of his career, and a big jump from his turnover rate of 19.3 two seasons ago.
What's the reason for the increase? Rondo turned it over much more in pick-and-roll situations and transition last year than he did two years ago. ...
When looking at the numbers and watching the tape, you notice that Rondo's inability to make a jumper, or even shoot one at times, really hurts him in pick-and-roll situations. Opposing teams started picking up on Rondo's unwillingness to shoot and they started going under ball screens at an extreme rate. ... With defenders going under screens, Rondo was forced into turnovers:
There are a couple of reasons why going under screens can lead to turnovers. First, it allows the man covering Rondo to get in better position to cut him off and keep him from getting in the lane. If Rondo's forcing the issue, that could lead to an offensive foul. Also, with Rondo not being allowed to drive, it makes everything easier for the rest of the defense. They don't have to help on Rondo's dribble penetration and that allows them to be in better position to defend the rest of the Celtics. "
I wasn't able to read the rest of the article, because you have to sign up for the site, and it's a pay site, but I think I can guess what it goes on to say: Rondo Needs A J.
We all know how stubborn Rondo is. So far as I know, there has been no indication from him this summer that he recognizes this issue, or intends to do anything about it. His main preoccupation seems to have been recovering from the injuries he had last season, which makes a lot of sense, and making headlines/tweetlines with Red Bull activities, through appearances at Patriots training sessions, with Bruins players and at various all-star exhibition games. There's been no sign of any shooting progress.
Who can know what is going on in The Enigma's head, right? I'm not sure Rondo knows what is going on in his head. I have a strong feeling that this kid has serious scoring ability in him, just waiting to bust out, but that something holds him back. Part of it, I think, is that he has a commitment to the idea of TEAM basketball that borders on the fanatical. That is precisely what makes him a true Celtic, and potentially a cornerstone for future championships. This is a guy who has his own ideas about how basketball should be, and he really believes in them. That makes him a potential leader. I read somewhere that he is working out with JuJuan Johnson this summer. If that's true, I say, good show! We need Rondo to embrace leadership. I see him as the kind of player who has to be a leader. The back seat isn't really an option.
But is there something more going on here? Is there some inner struggle for Rondo that gets tangled up with this issue of shooting the basketball? The road to greatness in any field always involves struggle with personal demons, in order to unleash potential. This is inescapable. If Rondo's shooting is tangled up with such an inner struggle in some way, I'm betting on him to prevail. A lot of fans seem to have given up on him. There seem to be a lot of folks claiming that he will never become a good shooter, or even an ok shooter. I don't agree. I think this kid has shown over and over again that he has the ability and the determination to step up his game when he needs to. I think that part of the reason he hasn't stepped up his shooting yet is that it hasn't been a high enough priority. If shooting the J is his personal wall, I count on him to break through it.
But nothing is for sure. The human drama remains mysterious, and Rondo remains Boston's own Sphinx. We'll just have to see. They say "ball don't lie". An Enigma isn't a lie. It's just a Truth that keeps us waiting a little...