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Doc's Clear Message: This Is Rondo's Team Now

I'm the man.
I'm the man.

Doc's comments taking the blame for Ray Allen's departure were very much intended to take the heat (pun kinda intended) off of Rajon Rondo. It also signals a clear message that this is Rajon's team now. Doc stressed that he gave the ball to Rondo more and more and the team clearly benefited from it, even if Ray didn't as an individual.

Obviously Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will still be critical to the success of the team (KG's +/- numbers were staggering in the playoffs and Pierce is still the best pure scorer on the team) but Rajon Rondo is the new sheriff. And it goes beyond the "as Rondo goes, so goes the Celtics." He's the star. He's the focal point. He's the Kobe, LeBron, Dwight, etc.

Rajon certainly doesn't lack for confidence either. He calls himself the best point guard in the league and he's got a really good case. He's also got the confidence of his coaches and team.

Doc Rivers leaves no doubt: Boston Celtics are Rajon Rondo's team

That confidence came, in large part, from Rondo's inspired play last season when he averaged 11.9 points and a league-best 11.7 assists per game. Rondo was downright dazzling at times, both in the regular season and on the big stage in the playoffs. He finished eighth in the MVP balloting and carried the team at times.

Every year I've felt like Rajon was going to get better the next year. It seems like he's taken "the leap" 3 or 4 times already. Inconsistency and a bad jump shot always has seemed to hold him back from being The Man. But last year he proved that he could be consistently great. He hasn't gotten a lot better with his shooting but he's taking the mid-range shot more to keep defenses honest.

He's also just the kind of guy that will probably just keep improving what he does best without getting too bent out of shape about what he doesn't do as well. Maybe next year he'll average 14 assists and still only score 10 to 13 points per game. He's going to do it his way, and that way has been very successful and should be for years to come.

Ainge's moves to make the team decidedly younger and more athletic are another clear signal of Rondo's importance. With Lee, Bradley, Green, Wilcox, and others, Rajon finally has some guys to get out and run with.

Garnett has always preferred to defer to someone else as the lead dog. Pierce might have to take some time to adjust (last year at times it seemed like he and Rondo would take turns leading the team) but he sees the writing on the wall as well as the rest of us.

The offense will change a bit with Ray out and Lee/Terry in, and that too will take getting used to, but that's not necessarily a bad thing for Pierce. With fewer screens needed to be set for Ray, Pierce might be able to find open space better for himself. Besides, Rondo is pretty invested in getting him the ball in position to score. They are smart guys (along with the coaching staff) - they'll figure it out.

Regardless, Rajon Rondo has been the future of this team for a while now. Look around. Ray is gone. The Big Three era (as we know it) is over. The future is now.

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