Please Explain Something To Me…

May 7, 2009 – 2:23 am by Ryan Phillips

Since when did it become impossible to guard Rajon Rondo? I’ve watched the kid play a lot over the past two seasons, he’s not the second coming of Jason Kidd, but for some reason he’s looked like it this postseason.

Last night Rondo went off for 15 points, 11 rebounds and 18 assists in the Celtics’ 112-94 blowout win over the Orlando Magic. It was his fifth career triple-double but his third in the last eight games. Until last night, only Larry Bird had ever had three playoff triple-doubles in one season for the Celtics.

How the hell does Rajon Rondo have three triple-doubles in the playoffs? He’s a 6’1 point guard who can’t shoot. How is a guy like that hard to defend? I repeat: He. Can’t. Shoot. Can’t do it. Would lose a game of horse to my 67-year-old, arthritic, female neighbor. And I’m being serious.

I realize he’s incredibly athletic, a great defender and has developed excellent court vision. That doesn’t explain how opposing players are allowing him to dominate games.

In the most basic sense of the game, there are three things you need to be able to do in order to be a successful basketball player (unless you’re 6’10 or taller): You must be able to handle the ball, you must be able to defend to some degree and you must be able to hit a jump shot.

Already Rondo is missing one-third of what it takes to be a successful basketball player.

Here’s some advice for guys who defend him: SAG OFF AND LET HIM SHOOT! Whatever you do, don’t give him lanes to the basket and don’t face-guard him. And if he gets by you, foul the shit out of him. Chances are he’ll miss one-third of his free throws.

How the hell this kid is averaging 18.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 11.9 assists in the playoffs I’ll never understand. He’s shooting just 42 percent from the field and 28.5 percent from 3-point range in the postseason, by the way. Those numbers are atrocious for any guard, let alone a guy who has absolutely dominated the playoffs.

All due respect to the Magic but If you get dominated by a guy like Rajon Rondo, you deserve to lose. He’s a decent player but come on.

Photo from Getty Images

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  1. 24 Responses to “Please Explain Something To Me…”

  2. All due respect to the Magic, but they didn’t give effort . Like Barkley said at halftime, they were happy with a split. Their entire team effort was pathetic. In no way, shape or form are these guys ready to play for an NBA championship.

    By LR. Roberts on May 7, 2009

  3. 1. High volume shooting, and most of it is close to the basket. Also, he has 14 3-pt attempts in 9 games. Statistically insignificant, especially considering how many of them are either buzzer-shots or shot-clock beaters. He also shot 50% from the floor this year.

    2. He’s really, really fast. And he’s playing against teams that don’t have anyone fit to guard him. Also, his ball-handling has been phenomenal.

    3. He pursues rebounds very intensely, far more so than many other point guards. This inflates his rebounding stats a bit, as he gets rebounds that most guards just let the big men get and then pass to them.

    Honestly, it sounds like you’re just reacting to the box scores. If you watched the games, it wouldn’t be so surprising. Keep in mind that his team is heavily depleted, so he’s become more of a focal point, and this his statistics have jumped considerably.

    By CaptFamous on May 7, 2009

  4. No, I have been watching the games and virtually every time he scores I’m puzzled by it. The rebounding and assists are just evident of a young guard who has started to figure things out. I get those. But how he’s allowed to penetrate and score or kick to wide open guys is beyond me.

    No one should sag off to help on his drives because the guard defensing him should be expecting a drive every time to the basket and should be able to stop him.

    By Phillips on May 7, 2009

  5. 4. Plus, his body is much longer than what 6’1 dictates. Looks at his arms, hands, and fingers. He gots the arms close to that of Tayshaun Prince (7’0 wingspan). In regards to being longer than height, not actual measurement. Palms the ball with ease. If you can do that, you can do whatever you want with the ball. Look between plays how he puts a spin on the ball when bouncing it to somebody, You wouldn’t believe it if you werent paying attention

    By AlexM on May 7, 2009

  6. Point guard rebounding is a really suspicious stat to me. As you say, a lot of it comes down to the pg grabbing a rebound that would instead go to a big man, rather than the pg creating a rebound that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

    From a comparison standpoint, some point guards simply don’t try to get them. They get out on the break. But if you compare such a pg’s stats to someone like Kidd or Rondo, you can come away thinking they’re inferior in that phase of the game, when they might not be.

    By JLK on May 7, 2009

  7. Rondo is more than a “decent” player. He’s a top 5-7 point guard in the NBA. Everyone else is just learning this.

    And besides, rebounds and assists have got nothing to do with having a jump shot — and scoring 10-20 points on fast breaks, lane penetration, and broken plays really isn’t that difficult for a player as quick as Rondo. Hence the triple doubles.

    Rondo’s not going to score 30 often, unless he develops a jump shot — but he’ll probably average 15-18 ppg as soon as next season.

    By joe on May 7, 2009

  8. You know, the “He can’t shoot” argument is getting old. I got news for you – Yes he can. I first heard the “He can’t shoot” argument two years ago when he shot 41.8 from the field, certainly not great, but not that awful for a rookie PG. Last year he shot 49.2 from the field and yet I still heard those “He can’t shoot” arguments out of several “NBA experts” out there. This year he’s 50.5. from the field, and it’s the first time this year that I see the “He can’t shoot argument”. You know, he’s not Dwight Howard, so it’s not like he dunks all the time. He’s not Marion either, so saying that all his points come from fast breaks?, please.

    Also, don’t come out saying that it’s a lot easier to get stats with Boston’s big three around. Look at what Rondo did in the end of the 06-07 season, leading a team which played Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Kendrick Perkins and Allan Ray.

    As for your arthritic female neighbor?, She’s probably a Hall-of-famer and she’d beat you in Horse as well.

    By Jonathan on May 7, 2009

  9. Just to second what someone said above, Rondo’s wingspan is 6’10″, which is pretty freakish for a 6’2″ guy. It means he has the reach of a guy who is 6’7″ or so, but the quickness of a guy who is 6’2″. He is very fast and puts a lot of pressure on defenders, much like Tony Parker, and can finish well like Parker. His jump shot is not great, especially when contested, but since he’s left open so much, it’s good enough.

    And to the person who says that PG rebounds are a sketchy stat, you’re wrong. If it’s a completely random stat and PGs just grab rebounds that would go to forwards, why do Rondo and Kidd get so many more rebounds than average, year in and year out? Are they just lucky? Do other point guards not want to rebound? No — they go after rebounds and get them, often _over_ forwards.

    Lastly, to the person who said that having a jumpshot doesn’t have anything to do with getting rebounds, that’s not quite right either. One reason Rondo and Kidd get so many rebounds is because they aren’t asked to shoot outside shots, thus leaving them free to roam near the basket and get boards.

    In sum, Rondo is good. Get used to it.

    By JM on May 7, 2009

  10. I must have missed something……Jason Kidd can shoot?

    By None Given on May 7, 2009

  11. See, I never said Rondo wasn’t good. He’s a good point guard, for sure. But he’s DOMINATING the playoffs. I just don’t think he’s as good as his playoff numbers are showing. What has changed? Why is he so tough to guard all of a sudden? That’s what I’m asking.

    By Phillips on May 7, 2009

  12. Great players rise and take their game to a whole different level when their team need them the most. That’s all that happened. Is Rondo the only player in the history of the league to have much better numbers in the postseason?, I remember another young PG a couple of years ago who really raised his game in the postseason. His name was Deron Williams. Why is it so hard to accept that Rondo deserves to be mentioned as one of the best PG in the game right now?

    Also, aren’t 21 points, 7 boards, 8 assists and 6 steals DOMINATING?, He did it last year in the last game against the Lakers, no less. He had another game in that series with 16 assists, btw. Less boards, but that’s what you get when Garnett is healthy.

    By Jonathan on May 7, 2009

  13. He’s a meticulous point guard almost obsessive with every aspect of his game and that’s what is making the difference. He’s focused on being perfect every game. I read in an article that he keeps track of stats in his head – like how many shots his teammates have taken and either passes or makes shots to balance it out. So, that keeps the defense honest and floor spread, since everyone is involved in the offense. I don’t think he’s that unpredictable, but its just that no one keeps track of the game like he does.

    By Woodrow Howe on May 7, 2009

  14. I have been saying that the whole time. Rondo’s good, but not that good! he’s a 3rd option on that team (4th or 5th if Garnett is in). whoever is saying that Rondo’s a good shooter is lying to themselves. good shooters don’t airball free throws. he’s below average, at best.

    what makes him so good is that he’s fast, has a knack for finding the ball, plays good defense and finds his guys in spots where they want the ball. I absolutely can’t knock him on that.
    most of the nation has been fooled into thinking he’s this incredible point guard but let’s see him in 4-5 years when the ‘big 3′ are gone. you don’t even have to guess, check the tape two years ago

    By D. Cole on May 7, 2009

  15. I’m sorry, Cole, below average?, How about we actually use stats instead of biased opinions for this one?, Look at the numbers. 50.5 FG%?, For a PG?, That’s amazing. Do you know how many PGs in the league top 50% from the field?, In a quick search I found only one, and that’s Chris Paul.

    About Rondo being a 4th option?, Well, who wouldn’t be on a team featuring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen?, Come on. 90% of the players in the league would be 4th option in such a team.

    Regarding the free throws, yeah, he’s not a great free throw shooter, no doubt about it, but FT is not just about shooting, other factos must come to consideration as well. JR Smith is considered to be one of the deadliest three point shooters in the league, averaging 2.2 at a 39.7 clip, and is only shooting 75.4 from the line, pretty lousy for a SG.

    As for the tape from two years ago?, yeah, let’s check, and I’m gonna use the last month of the season and the whole season, as he wasn’t even starting or playing heavy minutes during that time. So, in 10 games in April, Rondo averaged 13.0 PPG, on 55.3 FG% (!), 5.8 RBG, 5.5 AST, 2.5 STL, just 1.9 TO. Those numbers, for a rookie, playing with Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Kendrick Perkins and Allan Ray?, That’s amazing.

    By Jonathan on May 7, 2009

  16. If you sag off Rondo he is going to have a wide open passing lane to Ray Allen coming off a down screen, and that = 3 points. Defending the pass is just as important as defending the shot. Especially when it’s the teams point guard who is the main distributor of the ball throughout the game. Rondo is a great point guard give him credit. Stop being a negative nancy.

    By Mike on May 7, 2009

  17. Jonathan,
    Almost all of Rondo’s field goal makes are layups, let’s not fool ourselves here. He is an awful shooter, even Celtics fans will admit that. The percentages may say otherwise, but actually watching games makes a huge difference.

    Again, I’m not saying the guy is a bad player, it’s just kind of weird that all of a sudden he’s unstoppable. I respect his game and what he’s done this year, I just feel like teams could be doing more to stop him.

    By Phillips on May 7, 2009

  18. Phillips, I watch the games. I’ve seen Rondo knocking down shots. I know that most of his points come relatively close to the basket. As for his true shooting FG%?, Well, I went here to check:
    http://www.nba.com/hotspots/

    So, he’s been shooting 31.3 from the three – which is pretty good considering he doesn’t even shoot threes. Many of those shots are buzzer beater attempts and halfcourt heaves and what not.

    As for the midrange game?, 43.5 FG%. So we can clearly say that his FG% get a boost from layups and baskets closer to the hoop, but come on, 43.5% is enough to forget the “Can’t shoot” argument. After all the guy can’t get layups from there.

    Actually I was a little disappointed at the low clip from relatively close to the basket, which stands at 35.5 FG%. That of course is offset by this whopping 56.9 FG% right below the hoop.

    Conclusion: we can all agree that Rondo’s FG% is that high thanks to his great percentages under the basket. Clearly his midrange game isn’t what you’d expect out of someone who “Can’t shoot”, as you and many others have said. Also, Rondo isn’t exactly the only PG in the game who gets his FG% raised by making most of his shots right under the hoop. All players in the league benefit from that. Except maybe Rafer Alston, who REALLY can’t shoot. So, to sum it up, I don’t think the fact that most of Rondo’s shots come from under the hoops is enough to make him an awful shooter – the numbers say otherwise. Obviously it’s far easier to make a layup than hit a 20-footer, but that goes for every guy in the league. Still, Rondo’s FG% are sky high, and I don’t care how many layups he made. It’s not like he’s the only guy who is allowed to make layups. You COULD say that his true FG% isn’t great, but I never said Rondo is Stojakovic circa 2002.

    As for the teams not doing enough to stop him?, Well, you have to imagine that by now opposing scouts aren’t sleeping on him. He almost averages a triple double in this postseason. It’s obvious that when Rondo’s playing well, the Celtics look much better, so there’s no reason for opposing coaches to just forget about him and let him roam freely. Maybe it’s time to give the guy some credit instead of looking for answers in the stars.

    By Jonathan on May 8, 2009

  19. Oh, by “some credit”, I mean a lot of credit. You don’t average 18.3 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 11.9 APG by sheer luck.

    By Jonathan on May 8, 2009

  20. I agree. Rajon Rondo is built in the same mold as Tony Parker but more of a pure point guard. He shoots a high percentage because so many of his points come from in the paint. I ask the same question about why teams want to pick up Tony Parker at the top of the key instead of forcing him to shoot the jumper. Teams think they are playing tough defense by pressuring the likes of Parker and Rondo but they aren’t doing anything but playing to those two player’s strength. Rondo is dominating simply because these teams don’t execute their scouting reports OR they have bad scouting. Either way you look at it, Rondo is playing at a high level and taking what the defense gives him. He has played well above his age and experience.

    By Jaris on May 8, 2009

  21. Why seperate layups from his shooting percentage? This merely shows that he has the ability to attack the basket rather than being content to sit back and bomb from long range.

    By Colin on May 8, 2009

  22. Phillip is living proof that persons hate someon who makes themselvees better. if you dont have azillion dollar contract you are not supposed to do well in what ever you do.
    A few years back the miami heat made it to the playoffs on Shaq’s back and come playoff time he faded, and a PG came to the forefront his name Dwade. Every year RR’s stats has improved, this playoff he has had to work more play more minutes with KG out of the line up, guess what it has paid off.
    Phillip please state what team and what sport you play. I am really tired of hearing people sit on their rears and say my grand mother, or “67-year-old, arthritic, female neighbor” could do better. Fine! but can you do better, maybe those persons trained hence the reason they could do better. Please stop saying someones hard work is insignificant. take up a basketball and go to a court and shoot 10 shots from the free throw line, then come back and tel us how you did. Then askk your “67-year-old, arthritic, female neighbor” to stand in front of you between the basket while you shoot 10 more then see the difference.
    Would love to see how many you score out of those 20 shots.
    Dont post the score if you dont hit more than 5 each time.

    By Chris on May 8, 2009

  23. Rajon Rondo is dominating because he has a high basketball IQ to match his intensity, hustle and speed. Last year in the Finals, Paul Pierce got alot of credit for the Celtics winning the title. But watch those games and you will see Rondo doing the same thing he is doing this year. Playing great D and making clutch plays.

    By Curt on May 11, 2009

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