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Rondo Makin' It Look Easy

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The stats jump off the page at you and the growing recognition around the league is pretty fun, but the thing that has struck me the most about Rajon Rondo thus far is just the way he's making it look so easy out there.  This is a hard game and he's playing arguably the hardest position.  His stats are also extremely reliant upon other people to do their jobs, so he has the responsibility to help them do their jobs better.

Think of it this way.  I'm not a very good chess player because I find it hard to think several steps ahead (I'm more of a read-and-react person).  There are some people that can think several steps ahead but they sometimes need to be very deliberate about it and so their reaction time is slower.  Rondo can somehow think ahead and react instantly.  He sees the floor, knows exactly where people are (or should be), knows where they are likely to go, and what spots on the floor will be wide open if the defense reacts a certain way.  And he's doing all of this at 100 mph.

In short, the game has slowed down to him to the point where he's just tossing in extra moves just for fun.  One play in particular stands out to me.  He was on a slow-developing fast break and there were too many bodies in front of him to go full tilt to the basket.  Instead of abandoning the break, he waited for it to develop.  While he was waiting he threw in an around the back (to the same hand) dribble that might have served to make the defense think a little bit, but mostly it was just for show.  Then when the timing was right, he burst to the basket, drawing defenders to him.  In mid-leap he faked a pass, pulled it back for what appeared to be a layup, then quickly dished it off to the right for the easy layup (I think it was to Ray).

I also saw him at the top of the key on defense, and at the beginning of the play he recognized the Pistons' set and turned around to scream to his teammates exactly what they were running.  I'm sure this happens often, but it was hilarious to me to see our quarterback calling out the other team's plays.  It just reminded me of all the people that talk about the tireless hours Rondo puts in watching video of other teams.  This isn't just talent, he's working his tail off and the results are speaking for themselves.

There are going to be days when Rondo isn't clicking like this and I don't think he can keep up quite this pace in terms of stats.  But he's showing us all what a great player he can be and he's making it look easy.  It is very fun to watch.

Update: Interesting post on TrueHoop where David Thorpe implores teams to "guard Rajon Rondo already."

"The biggest myth in basketball," says Thorpe, "is that backing off someone makes it harder for them to drive. You give them so many more angles to attack, and you let them get up to full speed before even encountering a defender."