Before his talents were shipped to Dallas, Rajon Rondo was the Leader of his team, an All-Star candidate and max contract worthy player. Injuries plagued his career as of late – but when healthy, he’s arguably a top 5 point guard in the NBA. What sets Rajon Rondo apart from other point guards is his ability to defend, play passing lanes, have crisp passing precision, snag rebounds and make plays happen before the defense can get set, or when the defense breaks down. Teams knew Rondo as the engine. Though Rondo is a perfectionist, he’s far from perfect. Often critiqued for his shot selection, or lack there of. He’s at a poor 60% from the line for his career (39% FT shooting
for the 2015 season). Defenses could easily fall back and dare him to shoot.
Rondo’s tenure with the Mav’s was rocky to say the least. Coming off an impressive career with the Celtics – a Championship, multiple all-star appearances and All-NBA selections. Who wouldn’t want that player on their team? But, some things are too good to be true. Constant bickering, confusion and arguing occurred between Rondo and head coach Rick Carlisle throughout the season. Chemistry between Rondo and the Mav’s was up and down. Rondo’s style of play didn’t exactly mesh well with the offense Dallas was trying run. Nevertheless, the Mav’s ended the regular season 50-32, so-so for a title contender. They made the playoffs as a 7th seed in a LOADED western conference. Expectations were high for the Mav’s, especially Rondo. Dallas wanted Rondo to be the missing piece in the playoffs, to put up monster numbers, and give opponents nightmares on both ends of the court.
But what did Dallas get? – Oh man what Dallas got – More like, disappointment, less-than sub-par, nonchalant, are words to describe Rondo’s performance. Game 1, 15 pts and 5 ast and a -23 in the +/- category in a loss. Surely Rondo would bounce back in game 2 right? WRONG. Game 2 was even worse, much worse, 4 pts, 1 ast and 1 reb in 9 min. in one play Rondo received
an 8 second half-court violation – in the NBA Playoffs… They of course lost that game. The Rondo experiment was clearly dead. All the coach and chemistry issues finally took their tole on the team. The Mav’s sat Rondo due to a back injury that just so happened to occur during or after game 2. Words like quitter and apathetic were beginning to overcome Rondo’s good name. Head Coach Carlisle doesn’t expect Rondo to wear a Mavericks uniform ever again. Seemingly in one game, Rondo single handedly tarnished his career and reputation.
Rondo isn’t broken. He isn’t done. And he isn’t washed up. This is simply another case of a good/great player being a bad fit for a team. Nothing more, and nothing less. Rondo needs a team that’s suited for Rondo. Think of Josh Smith, he was a terrible fit in Detroit, and is now a major contributor for the Rockets, playing very well for them in the playoffs and conference finals. J.R. Smith was a bad fit for the Knicks, and now he is essential for the Cavaliers. Same goes for Iman Shumpert. If these players can resurrect their careers, surely Rajon Rondo, an accomplished champion and all star, will do the same. Especially since his reputation is being dragged through the mud, we can only assume he has more incentive to be great in the 2015-2016 season.
In the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat Rondo shot roughly 50% for the series. Game 2’s performance was his best, dropping 44 pts, 10 ast and 8 reb. Hall of Fame type stuff. Though the Celtics lost that close, controversial game. Rondo caught the NBA’s attention
so much even Lebron James gave him praise after the game. In game 3 Rondo returned with a 21 pts, 10 ast and 6 reb in a win. Don’t get me wrong, there are games where Rondo looks like he refuses to shoot, or gets too passive and tentative, even stubborn. But then there are other games. Like these. Where it makes you think.
Now is the perfect time to pick him up whether you’re a contender or re-builder. Rondo is the type of player who loves to prove doubters wrong. He’s in the position where he must be the Rondo of old. The Rondo of the 2012 Eastern conference Finals. Whatever team picks him up albeit on the cheap. Will be getting the rejuvenated, eager and hungry Rondo.