This upcoming season will feel dramatically different for anyone from or fans of the Boston Celtics.
While Boston fans aren't expecting too much from the forthcoming season, it is still in fact a very important one for star Point Guard Rajon Rondo.
In this feature we take a look at some key points Rondo will need to face if he is to have a successful season.
1. Not To Rush Comeback From Injury!
Last season Rondo missed the second half of the season down to tearing his ACL against the Atlanta Hawks. It was not only a huge blow to Rondo himself but also fans of the Celtics, as it was looking more and more likely that this would probably be the last run at a Championship with this roster of players. Until that point, Rondo was actually averaging his best line of stats - 13.7 ppg, 11.1 apg & 5.6 rpg. Now, an ACL is as serious as an injury can get for an athlete, and requires the unfortunate person to be patient, and also requires a whole heap of rehabilitation. It would be fair to say that in a lot of cases, players in any sport fail to come back the exact some player from such an injury. An ACL tear can end careers, this is something Boston fans need to be aware of.
Rajon Rondo is widely known for being a fiery player. A player who digs deep, plays hard and likes to be on court in the mix of things. Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge this week appeared on Bill Simmons' podcast 'The B.S Report', and went on tape discussing Rondo's comeback and how he is "not sure [when Rondo will be back],". Now, this may be slightly depressing to fans as they would like to see him back out on court as soon as possible, but I believe Rondo should use this 'rebuilding' phase as a reason to really be patient with his comeback. If we are wanting to have Rondo comeback and be the player he was and how we know he can be, we will need to be just as patient. According to Danny Ainge, Rondo is currently running through shooting drills and light ball-handling drills and is not anywhere near being 100% yet. Rumours are circulating that he may be ready by mid-November but I would be happy for him to take his time and if need be come back for December time, absolute latest early January. That may be controversial as some may say Boston need him back as soon as possible to save the blushes of what may turn out to be a disastrous season. Like I mentioned earlier, some players are never the same from these types of injury, and I for one will not be screaming out for Rondo to rush back before he is ready.
2. Give Rondo The Celtics Captaincy?
Rajon Rondo over the past few years has been in the middle of much talked about trade speculation. Danny Ainge has on numerous occasions played down that talk, and claimed Rondo as the integral part of his roster and that he wouldn't be going anywhere. Now, with Celtics legend/leader Paul Pierce and All-Star Kevin Garnett finding their way to Brooklyn it has left not only a huge void in terms of influential characters but also in the captains role. This is the job Rondo should not only want, but he should be given. It's no secret the level of respect players like Pierce & KG had for Rondo. They would on numerous occasions say that they were happy for Rondo to 'unofficially' lead the team. You can see this on court, when every play goes through Rondo, he is a true point guard in that respect. Some may disagree, but Rondo's attitude in recent years has 'matured', like it or not. Rondo the leader, is more open to the press now than he has been in the past, this is another area Rondo will likely have to get more than used to as he is without doubt the face of the Boston franchise now. Another example of his blossoming leadership qualities is that Rondo is said to be very good with younger guys on the roster, and is quick to offer advice in what would no doubt help the development of young rookies. Rondo was also said to have worked closely at times with Doc Rivers at drawing up new plays, and was often at times asked his say on plays Doc may have been working on. I still don't think Rondo has really come out and said how he feels about Pierce, KG & Doc moving on and I'm sure at times he may have felt he was next, but if we are to believe that Rondo is the key piece in Danny's rebuilding I would not only assure him of that but I would reward him with the captaincy. The leader of the most successful franchise in NBA history would be a good fit for Rondo, and one I believe he would revel in.
3. Brad Stevens To Work Closely With Rondo, And Form Public Relationship
The Celtics this year will look different all over, not only in roster but also in their playing. This will be down to the franchises new Coach, Brad Stevens. What will be just as important this year is the relationship between Rondo and Coach Stevens. Things nice and early look good as one of the first things Stevens was said to have done upon the appointment of his new role was to ring his star Point Guard. When news came out of the phone call Stevens made to Rondo, I was over the moon. This was exactly the type of thing I was hoping Stevens would be doing, not only to introduce himself to his new star player, but to settle any worries Rondo may have had about the appointment. The phone call is said to have gone extremely well, with apparently not much talk of basketball but more about Rondo's life. This year will be extremely important for Stevens & Rondo, as they will have to work closely to get the best out of the current roster. I'm assuming Stevens may take a similar approach to former coach Doc Rivers, in that he may give Rondo more than just a say in what happens on court. If the Celtics are to give Rondo the captaincy, I believe Stevens may also use Rondo as his extra voice to get through to players on occasions. Those times when we have seen Rondo talking in a team mates ear, offering up advice is what I'm talking about here. Rondo has those leadership skills, and Stevens will look to utilise him to the best of his abilities. I'm expecting us to see more of Rondo in front of the camera this season, talking on behalf of his team and I would like it if he would go public with his relationship with his new coach. I know this may not be the usual style of Rondo, but I would like nothing more than to see him staunchly backing Stevens over decisions that may have happened on/off court. The relationship between these two will be extremely important in the progression of this great franchise, and it's one I believe can and will succeed.