I've been a supporter of Rajon's for a long time now. Until the Celtics' Feb 28 game in Cleveland. For whatever reasons, that game neatly encapsulated for me all the problems Rondo brings to the Celtics.
It comes down to inconsistency -- for which he is well known -- and mostly to the fact that Rondo simply DOES NOT LISTEN TO HIS HEAD COACH.
The Cleveland game started off great, with Rondo playing the pure distributor. This lasted exactly one quarter. In the 2nd quarter, with a comfortable lead established, Rajon decided to throw out the good and let in the bad. Again.
How many times has Doc Rivers said "KEEP IT SIMPLE"? And "JUST MAKE THE SIMPLE PASS"? Countless times. What did Rondo do? He started looking for the hardest, stupidest passes he could find. Result? Turnovers, of course. (He would have had more than the 5 he was charged with, but for some lucky bounces.)
How many times has Doc said "RUN!" and "ATTACK"? How many times did Rondo attempt a fast break? Once (maybe twice) in the whole game. Not at all in the 4th quarter, when he walked the ball up EVERY SINGLE TIME.
And you could still see him on defense stabbing at the ball from behind his man, as is his way.
After the game, Doc said about Rondo that he "got down on himself" after some turnovers. Doc is forced to sound supportive of course, for obvious (and probably some not-so-obvious) reasons. But think about it. RR is paid 10 MILLION BUCKS A YEAR. He's in his SIXTH year in the NBA. Is this how a professional behaves? Really? A very good shooter in the NBA misses half of all the shots he attempts. A great hitter in MLB still screws up ~2/3 of his at-bats. Does this stop any true professional from playing on? If it did, pro sports would be a joke. Apparently, nobody informed Rondo about all this.
Actually, I doubt that. It's more that Rondo doesn't listen. To anybody. Not his coaches. Not his teammates. To nobody. He's beyond stubborn, having long-ago entered uncharted oceans of thick-headed obstinacy.
But "No," you say? HE GOT 11 ASSISTS IN THAT GAME!?
Look, Rondo initiates the offense on virtually EVERY possession when he's in the game. He played 35.5 minutes, which is 74% of the game.
- Cs had about 92 possessions in the game [((FGA - O-Rebs) + TO + (.436 x FTA))].
- Rondo was therefore in the game for ~68 possession.
- Let's estimate that Rondo initiated the offense just 80% of the time. (It's more than that, but what the hell.)
- So Rondo initiated ~54 possessions, on offense.
- He had 5 turnovers, took 6 shots, and had no free throws.
- Which means that Rondo initiated the offense by PASSING THE BALL (as opposed to taking a shot, committing a TO, or getting to the FT line) 43 TIMES.
Why is the passing number so high? Because RR didn't do much BESIDES pass the ball. He had 5 TOs and only 6 shots. Now... if you give an average NBA guard -- not even a point guard, just a plain ol' guard -- 43 passes to the likes of KG, Pierce and Ray Allen, how many assists do you think that average guard would get?
And so it goes.
I am not trying to say that Rondo is not an excellent distributor. He is.... but ONLY WHEN HE LISTENS TO HIS COACH. When he keeps it simple, eschews the needle-threading, turnover-producing hero passes, and stays aggressive -- then yeah, he is an excellent point guard.
And he might turn around and have a GREAT game any day now.... 35 points, umpteen assists, etc., etc. And you might think, "Alright, he IS great after all!" And you would be wrong. Because he doesn't do it CONSISTENTLY. He takes whole games off. He takes whole WEEKS off. He IGNORES his coach MOST OF THE TIME. Rajon Rondo does pretty much whatever the hell he feels like doing, most of the time.
So call Rondo any name you want. Call him inconsistent. Call him unstable. Call him a great talent. Brilliant, stubborn, emotional, dedicated, nonchalant, beloved, hated.... call him anything you want.
There is only one name I think we need to try hard to stop using for Rondo: "Celtic".
(I.e., try to trade.)