Grit, grind, grunt, groan. Welcome to the 2012-13 Boston Celtics without Rajon Rondo. Take away the most talented offensive weapon the Celtics have, and what is left? One of the more limited offenses in the NBA, yet perhaps one of the toughest defensive units in the league.
There have been a growing number of Celtics fans (tired of you, Bill Simmons) that question Rondo’s motivation and his mercurial play. Rondo is the supremely talented, yet-still-flawed (yes, human) point guard of the Celtics present, and hopefully, future. Yet, no matter how many triple-doubles he collects, and now matter how many memorable big-game performances he puts together, there are those fans who will question his mentality, his motivation, and his heart. Rondo is so talented, some fans have a hard time accepting his limitations. In order to gain a clearer perspective of what the Celtics will be missing over the next few months, lingering into May if they are lucky, let’s take a second and list Rondo’s pro’s and con’s.
Passing/Court vision: Rondo makes difficult one-handed passes seem routine. Whether they are half-court lobs to Garnett, or spinning, off-balance dishes to big men, Rondo has unique vision and threads the needle as well as anyone since John Stockton.
Penetrating ability: with Pierce’s age, Rondo has become their only real penetrator, creating passing lanes, leading to open jumpers and dishes at the rim. Lately, Courtney Lee has shown some determination to get to the rim, especially in the open court. Barbosa has speed enough to get by defenders, but can’t finish in the half-court. Jeff Green has shown glimpses of being able to create penetration. If the C’s can’t get out on the break without Rondo pushing the ball, they will struggle to get any regular penetration, which puts extra pressure on the three-point shot, and means Garnett’s top of the key jumper will be harder to set-up.
Rebounding: Rondo comes up with offensive rebounds in traffic, and helps out on the defensive glass as well as any point guard not named Jason Kidd. It’s not a coincidence both men have enormous hands.
Instincts for the ball: deflections, open-court steals, and on tipped-rebounds and passes. Rondo seems to get to the loose ball before everyone else on the court at least once per game.
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