Hi, my name is Jeff Clark and I'm a Rajon Rondo apologist. Admitting is the first step to recovery. Writing something negative about him is the next step. So here it goes.
Rajon hasn't been very good lately. He hasn't been the player that I imagine when I think of a fully healthy Rondo. That's not just me saying it. He's saying that himself.
"I’ve not been myself," he said after a 109-102 win snapped a five-game losing streak. "I haven’t been as aggressive. I haven’t been making shots. I’ve been turning the ball over. So, like I said, a lot of those losses I put on myself, and I’ve got to find a better rhythm."
So what's the answer? How can he turn things around?
"I don’t really have the answer," added Rondo, who had eight assists against four turnovers. "If I had it, I’d probably figure it out, but I’m still confident in myself. I’m still believing in myself. So, that hasn’t shied away from my game, and I’ll continue to get better."
Well, that's kind of concerning. I mean, I'm glad that his confidence isn't completely shaken, at least not publicly. But confidence seems to be at the root of his free throw shooting woes. It is very possible that those struggles are having a ripple effect on the rest of his game.
He may be (subconsciously or not) shying away from attacking the paint, especially in the 4th quarter, because he doesn't want to find himself at the line in an important moment again. At least not anytime soon.
At this point Rondo would rather get traded to Utah than take the ball to the hoop.— Rich Levine (@rich_levine) December 4, 2014
If he shies away from the paint, it makes covering him much easier for opponents. It reduces his options and makes him less effective.
And it isn't just Rondo at this point. His coach is now making decisions based on Rondo's poor free throw shooting. With seconds remaining Stevens subbed Evan Turner in for Rondo to bring up the ball in a situation where the Pistons were most likely going to foul. It paid off in the short term (Turner made the free throws) but it had people like me worrying about the long term implications and message it sent. Sounds like Stevens was worried about that too.
I took him out the one time, and I immediately regretted it. I felt like I should have had him back in, so I had him take the ball out the rest of the time.
That kind of "vote of no confidence" can be pretty damaging to a guy who may be going through some personal doubts (but is too stubborn or proud to admit openly). I'm merely speculating here and I don't want to play pop psychologist from afar. But I remember a story about Obama criticizing Rondo's shooting which resulted in Rondo simply not shooting outside shots for a few months. Weird stuff like that can happen.
Not that there's anything we can do about it. All we can do is hope that he keeps plugging away and finds his groove again.
I know that people who aren't fans of Rondo's game are going to use this stretch of bad play to prove their point that he "needs to be traded." Just like I was using his hot streak early in the year to "prove" my point that he's "back" and an All Star level player again. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between.
Maybe he's not as good as he is in my mind because I put him on a pedestal and only really remember the triple double playoff performances and mentally block out the 5 point, 7 turnover performances he's prone to having.
Don't get me wrong, I still love Rondo's game and I'm a big fan. I do understand that he has weaknesses in his game and even his personality. Still, I'm a believer that his strengths outshine his faults and his good stretches are going to last a lot longer than his slumps. If that makes me a homer and an apologist, well, maybe I'll just have to live with that label.
Oh and by the way, a breakout game against the Lakers would be just the thing to make a lot of us smile.