Friday, January 7, 2011

Look out NBA, Rondo's back.

Not that he left for long, but Rondo is primed to dominate the NBA...

In last year's post-season, Rondo was making his name known to the world. It happened with an astounding triple double in game four against the Cleveland Cavaliers -- where Rondo put up 29 points, 13 assists and 18 rebounds -- which put the young point guard in territory only touched by Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson. The remarkable performance sparked fans and media members to start mentioning Rondo as possibly the greatest point guard in the NBA.

At the start of the 2010-11 season, Rondo had picked up right where he left off in last year's playoffs. Averaging a double double over the first twenty games with 11.2 points and 13.8 assists, the point guard had his name mentioned by some as an MVP candidate. However, as Rondo battled nagging injuries to his plantar fasciitis and hamstring his performance began to slip a bit.

Then, in a game against the Knicks on December 15th, Rondo rolled his ankle causing a sprain. While he later returned to that game he would miss the next seven. When he returned to the court against the Raptors he didn't look completely like his normal self. While he was still putting up respectable stats, averaging 5 points and 12 rebounds in his first two games, he seemed to have lost some of the explosiveness that'd made him so compelling to watch at the beginning of the season and in last year's playoffs.

In a 105-103 Celtics' victory over the Spurs, Rondo showed that he's back. Wednesday night's performance was his second triple double of the season -- scoring 12 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out a whopping 22 assists, his second highest total of the season. All against the team with the best record in the NBA.

Asked how healthy he felt after the game, Rondo said he was at "79 percent".

"I felt a lot better than the past couple games," said Rondo. "I'm in a little bit of rhythm
and able to push off [with the ankle]."

In a close game, it was arguably Rondo that sparked the Celtics to victory in the fourth quarter. What was most impressive was that it was with a shot that we're not used to seeing from the developing point guard, the mid-range jumper.

Rondo scored eight points in the final frame, four of which came from beyond 16 feet. It's a part of Rondo's game that's been one of his most severe weaknesses. He's struggled to make jump shots or free throws. It's what allowed Kobe Bryant to play 20 feet off of him in the NBA finals, daring Rondo to shoot the ball. It was Minnesota's strategy Monday night and the Spurs' on Wednesday.

"We watched film today while working out, but I was upstairs and I watched Rondo take shot
after shot after shot after shot," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers after the Spurs game. "You could see himself mentally getting ready for what he thought was going to happen, and it did. They went under and he stepped up and made shots."

If Rondo is able to develop and perfect that jump shot, it will make him a complete player. Last year, Rondo shot 33% from mid-range. However, this season, he's improved his shooting percentage from 16-23 feet by 11 percent.

"Obviously they've been giving me that shot but if it's the best shot I think my team's going to get on that possession I'll take it," said Rondo.

NBA beware.

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