COMMENTARY | During his time in the league, Rajon Rondo has established himself as one of the league's top point guards.
He consistently posts huge assist numbers, and he always seems to elevate his play on the big stage. His injury last year was the beginning of the end of an era, and he is all of the sudden the undisputed face of the franchise.
This season will be an interesting one for Rondo. He will be expected to carry a young team while recovering from a bad knee injury. Additionally, there will almost certainly be chatter surrounding the possibility of a trade. Danny Ainge has insisted that a Rondo trade will not happen, but you can never be too sure of anything an executive says.
Despite these challenges, Rajon Rondo is in for a big year.
First and foremost, Rondo will have a massive chip on his shoulder. He sat on the sideline and kept an ear open to everyone saying he should be traded. While his team struggled against the New York Knicks, he watched helplessly on the bench. The competitive fire inside of Rondo has been brewing for a while now, and you have to believe he has an itch to prove a point. Leading this team will be one of the biggest challenges of Rondo's career, and he will step to the plate to deliver.
With Brad Stevens, the Celtics could run an offense that actually fits Rondo's game. Doc Rivers implemented a slow half-court offense that limited Rondo's ability to run and create in the open court. In spite of this, Rondo still posted very impressive numbers. There's no longer a need to slow down the game with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce gone. The offense might not be better, but it will definitely be operating at a faster pace with more possessions. This means easier points for Rondo at the rim, and the potential for more assists with Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace running on the wing.
It's no secret that Rondo likes to gamble on the defensive end. He hovers around two steals per game, which is certainly an impressive total. Part of this is good instincts and solid hands, while the other part is his willingness to take a chance at a steal. Rondo might have a little bit of a leash to take more chances on the defensive end, as Brad Stevens could see an opportunity for easy points on the other end following a Rondo steal. With solid help defenders around him such as Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, and Gerald Wallace, the gamble might be worth it. As a result, Rondo's steal total could take a noticeable jump.
Of course, returning from a knee injury is never easy. This will probably be Rondo's biggest obstacle, and it will take some time for him to return to his usual self. Some players are never the same, and simply regaining confidence in his knee will be a challenge. The team won't rush him back, but it will still take some game action to shake off the rust.
This season, Rondo will show why he's worth keeping around. Look for a big year from Boston's building block.
Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering New England sports for various blogs over the past 4 years. He has been featured on Fox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks", and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings.
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