Rajon Rondo is unpredictable. We take that truth to be self evident. For that reason alone, this figures to be an incredibly interesting season for the Boston Celtics. He is, after all, the single most important man on the team as of now (with coach Stevens right behind him in 2nd place). Everything kind of hinges on how good he is returning from his injury.
Rajon has always struggled with his jump shot, and we know that he has worked hard on it, and he's getting better. But there are times when he'll stubbornly refuse to shoot at all. Defenses sag off him, and instead of using that space to line up a shot, he uses it to see the floor better and attack the paint with a bigger head of steam. Don't try telling him what he needs to do better on the court. He's smarter than you and has already thought 3 moves ahead of where you were 2 days ago.
Sometimes I think he might even outsmart himself. Thinking that things should be obvious for his teammates but when they don't pick things up quick enough, he can be quick with the tempter. And that temper has derailed him in certain matchups, gotten him kicked out of playoff games, and ended his ballyhooed assist streak.
There are nights when he's the best player on the planet and there are nights when he's going through the motions, clearly uninterested in the result. Much has been made of his performances on National TV, but I've seen him dominate in games unseen by all but the die hards and defer to teammates in big moments. You just never know.
Rondo belongs to an undefined and yet iconic group of players that are described in contradicting terms. He's lauded as one of the league's best point guards, but pointed to as not being as good as the Celtics have needed. He's criticized for not being able to shoot or score enough, despite shooting 51 percent from 16 feet to the 3-point line last season, via Basketball Reference. He's the team's emotional leader, but a surly, snarky malcontent who has driven his coach to the ends of madness and allegedly helped drive Ray Allen to Miami. Rondo is not absolutely any of these things. Like any person, any player, it's a complicated series of elements that make up his persona through the lens of professional basketball.
So what will Rajon Rondo do this year? Your guess is as good as mine. Will he return opening night and dominate all season long? Will he miss the whole year like Derrick Rose? Will he slowly work back into playing shape, struggling early on and finally get right near the end of the season when it might be too late to salvage the year? I dunno.
There are more complicating factors here too. We don't know how he'll fit with new coach Brad Stevens. We don't know how patient and determined Danny Ainge is to build around him.
For all the prognosticators know, Rondo may not even be on the roster come February, and then ESPN’s prediction of a 29-53 record might be a generous one. Remember, the Hornets landed the No. 1 pick months after trading Chris Paul. But isn’t there also at least the possibility the Celtics are competitive? Two years ago, Derrick Rose submitted an MVP season as the only All-Star on a Bulls team that hired an unproven head coach, started Bogans all 82 games and won 62 of them. Green might even be Luol Deng to Rondo’s Rose. A stretch? Yes. Impossible? Maybe.
I think it is entirely possible that he could decide to be a scorer next year and average OVER 20 points a game (with fewer assists obviously). Or he could go the other way and become something of a point guard version of Dennis Rodman where he only goes for assists (and rebounds too I guess) and averages 2 points a game but breaks records for dimes. Maybe he'll become an expert 3 point shooter, but only from 1 spot on the floor. Or perhaps he'll end up posting up guards with Olynyk feeding him the ball in a weird sort of reverse traditional two man game.
The point here is that Rondo's entire situation is up in the air. He's walking into completely uncharted territory and you know what? I think he's looking forward to it. Personally I can't wait. This could be a lot of fun.