I read a good post by threats13 (titled Rajon Rondo's "Defense") regarding Rajon Rondo's defense. It's simply not at the All-NBA Defensive Team level that it has been for the last couple of years. Upon reading that article, I thought that I would dive into the topic a little bit more.
Ever since Rondo has become a starter for this team, the Boston Celtics have been one of the best defensive backcourts in the NBA.
Before Rondo became a starter (the 2006-2007 season), the Celtics were ranked 12th in the NBA when it came to stopping the opposing backcourt, allowing 41.5 points per game.
Once Rondo was an official starter the next year, the Celtics were ranked 2nd in the NBA for points allowed in the backcourt at 37.5 points a game. In the 2008-2009 season, the Celtics were ranked 3rd with 38.7 points. In the 2009-2010 season, the Celtics were ranked 4th with 39.7 points allowed. In the 2010-2011 season, the Celtics were ranked 2nd in the NBA with 37.8. In the 2011-2012 season, they were ranked 2nd once again at 35.6 points allowed.
Every single season that Rajon Rondo has been a starter, the Celtics have been one of the top 4 defensive backcourts in the NBA (Ray Allen also deserves a lot of credit here too, despite many people saying he doesn't play defense). This season though, the Boston Celtics are ranked 11th in the NBA in opposing backcourt points allowed.They allow 40 points a game. Much of that can be due to Jason Terry starting for the majority of the season.
But here is what I use to challenge that. So far this season, Terry has been allowing 107 points per 100 possessions. There was once upon a time where Ray Allen had defensive ratings that bad. It was during the 2008-2009, and the 2009-2010 season, where Allen put up ratings of 106, and 108 respectively. In those 2 seasons the Celtics were still ranked 3rd, and 4th in the NBA respectively.
In those same two seasons, Rondo was able to make the 2nd All-NBA Defensive Team (2008-2009), and made the first All-NBA Defensive Team (2009-2010).
Doc Rivers says he doesn't ask too much of Rondo on defense because of how much he does offensively, but what is Rondo doing so differently this season, than in his past seasons offensively?
During Rondo's second year he was averaging 9.3 field goal attempts, during his third he was averaging 9.5, during his fourth he was averaging 11.2, during his fifth he was averaging 9.9, during his sixth he was averaging 10.8, and finally this season he's averaging 11.6. That's only +0.4 from his fourth year in the NBA (where Rondo was still on the first All-NBA Defensive Team). Rondo's assists were down that season, but once again, it was only down by 1.2 compared to this season. Rondo's minutes are also only +0.6 from that season compared to now as well.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think Rondo is a bad defender, but I'm just saying it isn't on the same level as it was in past seasons. One can make the argument that Rondo has a defensive rating of 103, which is the same as it was during the 2009-2010 season when he was on the first All-NBA Defensive Team, but during the 2009-2010 season, Rondo was shooting the ball at 50.8% (highest of his career), which I always thought was a type of defense on it's own. Efficient offense is good defense in my opinion. I'm not saying that 49.6% shooting isn't efficient (which is Rondo's FG% this season), but 50.8% > 49.6% right?
Rondo has a lot on his shoulders which makes sense, so I suppose it really isn't fair to burden him with too many defensive assignments. Plus, with Avery Bradley returning soon (once again), it should give Rondo a break on defense.
What are your thoughts? Have Rondo's defensive abilities fallen off a bit? Is it more on Rondo's backcourt mates that made the Celtics backcourt defense so great in past seasons?