The Continued Evolution of Rajon Rondo
Is that a consistent jumper we see?
by Ryan McNeill / @ryanmcneill
Watching Rajon Rondo play last week it was easy to get hypnotized but what he can do on the court.
In just 22 minutes of burn against Toronto, he was able score 21 points while only attempting 8 field goals and going 12-15 from the free throw line.
The scoring outburst would be impressive in itself, but Rondo did this while disrupting Toronto’s offense by taking away passing lanes with his long arms and showing an ability to get into the paint any time he wanted due to his lighting-quick first step.
But as impressive as his game currently is, there are still areas for growth.
You would think that a player who is shooting 23.5 percent from beyond the arc so far in his NBA career would need to focus on his perimeter shooting, right? It appears not. Instead, Doc Rivers wants to see his point guard get better at the pick-and-pop from the elbow.
“I’m not worried about this three-point shot,” Rivers admitted to the media last weekend. “I think his elbow jump shot is going to be what sets him free. We need him to be a great pick-and-roll player and as long as they are going under the picks you don’t get a lot of action off of the picks. Once he starts making that little elbow shot, then it’s over because if you have to go over top with his speed on a pick-and-roll then he’ll pick the whole team apart.”
Shortly after those words spilled out of Rivers’ mouth I rushed into the Celtics locker room to chat with Rondo about this revelation.
After flashing a brief smile and promising to never shoot another three, Rondo admitted that the elbow jumper is a big focus right now in his game.
“It’s a shot I spend a lot of time working on so it’s only a matter of time before I start hitting it consistently,” Rondo told the media when asked about the elbow jumper.
For a player as well-rounded as Rondo is, it’s surprising his jumper hasn’t improved more so far at this point in his career, but for a player who has been able to rely on his speed and athleticism to get shots within the flow of the offense it hasn’t been a necessity. Plus, with strong perimeter shooters on the team in Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and at one time Eddie House, the team hasn’t relied on him to hit jumpers as a big part of their offense.
That all is starting to change this season as the Celtics look to initiate their offense by dumping the ball into the post. By getting away from a fastbreak offense to one that is anchored within halfcourt sets, when Rondo is able to consistently hit a jumper from the elbow it will add a whole other level to his game as well as his teammates.
When that happens the rest of the NBA will be left scrambling for ways to contain him.