Re: Truth about Rondo
posted at 8/12/2010 11:05 AM EDT
From the Herald:
"In his four years with the Celtics [team stats], Rajon Rondo [stats] has transformed from a question mark into one of the NBA’s elite point guards.
Though Rondo has made major progress, the 24-year-old still has room to grow. Celtics coach Doc Rivers believes Rondo will make strides this summer, as he is currently going through training camp with Team USA in preparation for the world championships in Turkey Aug. 28-Sept. 12.
“I like that he’s playing with them,” Rivers said on Tuesday. “I think the whole team part of that is good for Rondo. I think every day he’s in that team atmosphere is another day for him to learn.”
Rondo left the team yesterday due to a death in his family, but is expected to return to practice in New York today. There were questions if he would even be involved in the process, particularly after the Celtics season extended to Game 7 of the Finals.
“He’s young,” Rivers said. “You play basketball all summer when you’re young. That’s what you do anyways. They’re only going to play him 15-20 minutes a night.”
Rivers said he spoke with Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski and thinks Rondo will benefit from some of the things the team will do defensively. But Rondo was a first-team All-Defensive selection last season. His biggest need for improvement continues to be his jump shot.
Rondo averaged 13.7 points and shot 50.8 percent from the field last season despite a woefully inconsistent jumper, a testament to his driving ability. Rondo made just 33 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet, well below the league average for point guards.
Rondo’s inability to keep defenses honest caught up to the Celtics in the Finals, when the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant sagged into the paint.
“That hurts you in the playoffs when the best player on the other team is allowed to rest and clog up the middle,” Rivers said. “That’s what made their defense so strong, that their best roamer was Kobe. We have to correct that problem. That hurt us.”
Rivers is only looking for modest improvements from Rondo.
“We want him to shoot the right shots,” Rivers said. “The 3-point shot, I could care less. I could care less if he takes another 3 the rest of his career as far as I’m concerned. But we have to get him to make the elbow jump shot.”
Rivers’ top priority is for Rondo to improve as a free throw shooter. Rondo, a 63 percent shooter from the line for his career, shot an abysmal 26.3 percent in the Finals.
“I think when he becomes a better free throw shooter it’ll make him a better driver,” Rivers said. “I think, unfortunately it happened in the Finals, when he started missing free throws he stopped driving. That’s what all guys do.”
Rondo will again work with shooting specialist Mark Price and Rivers is hoping for further development.
“Rondo puts in hours on it,” Rivers said. “That’s all he can do. But he’s going to correct it. It’s not going to be overnight. He’s going to be a little better next year and he’ll be a little better each year. I’ve never seen a guy go from bad to great. That just doesn’t happen.”