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Posts Tagged ‘Rajon Rondo’

Rajon Rondo’s 3 FTs versus Phoenix (Nov 17, 2014)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on November 18, 2014

After a Knicks playoff game years ago, I was talking on the phone with Tom Thibodeau who was then an assistant with the Knicks. I said to him, Chris Dudley (who we both coached against when we were at Harvard and Dudley was an All-Ivy center at Yale) who is among the all-time worst FT shooter in NBA history, looks like he is on the deck of a ship lost at sea in rough waters, his balance iss so incredibly bad when he shoots a free throw. (How bad was he? Read this account of one trip to the line.) I said to Thibs: “Can’t someone just get him to stand still? To get his feet under him and leave them there? Does he have vertigo? I get dizzy watching him. It would have to be worth 10-20% at least”. Thibodeau said, “he’s got his own guy [meaning his own private shooting coach] and he won’t listen to anyone”. That coach was stealing money.

I neither love nor hate Rajon Rondo and his game. His court vision when he has the ball and his sense of anticipation and timing on defense are second to none. And that’s in a league of the world’s best athletes. But, man, is he a lousy shooter. All that stuff about him working with Mark Price a few summers ago – changing his shooting form and gaining confidence – is all just a bunch of junk. Price knows what he’s doing, but Rondo ain’t listening. Last night against the Phoenix Suns, Rondo (Rondo!) got fouled shooting a 3 pointer with 2.2 secs left, Celtics down 4. (Very stupid foul). The scenario is clear: make the first 2, miss the next, get the rebound and either score to tie or hit a 3 pointer to win. Except Rondo misses the first. Badly. Then Rondo misses the 2nd. Badly. Then Rondo misses the 3rd on purpose. The funny and sad and where-is-Mark-Price-now thing is the 3rd shot, the intentional miss, came closest to going in.

Rondo needs to change his release point, at least on his free throw. Get it up and out and away from his head and shoulder. Short stroke. Super short stroke to eliminate motion. Mimic Avery Bradley’s release point.

Hey, Rajon. I’m available.

Posted in notes: college & pro, shooting | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Rajon Rondo: My New Favorite Player

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on October 21, 2010

From what I witnessed last night, I’d now say that Rajon Rondo is the de facto on-court leader of the Boston Celtics and one of the smartest players in the NBA. That combination (along with the way he impacts play over every inch of the court both on offense and defense) makes him a favorite of mine to watch. From our ninth row behind the visitors’ bench vantage point, here’s what I saw: on one possession, Devon Harris, still in the backcourt, is dribbling the ball upcourt slowly as Avery Johnson, Nets’ head coach, calls out the offense play (or set). Rondo watches Johnson and when Johnson is done, Rondo turns and yells the play out to Lawrence Frank (serving as one-game Celtics coach in Doc Rivers absence), swivels and tells the Celtics defenders where to cheat, where to overplay. I’d read that Rondo studies film more than anyone on the team, and here was the beautiful proof. Then he did the same thing on a handful of possessions. It was like he was cheating, making the game unfair. (Imagine that you are teenagers and you are dating Rondo’s sister. Rondo would be telling his dad and your sister every move you planned to make before you even got to hold her hand. Unfair.) On another play, 3rd quarter in the midst of the inevitable Celtics run, Shaq rebounds, outlets to Rondo who, seeing Ray Allen trailing, veers off and lays a perfect bounce pass to Allen who, knifing down the lane, goes up to the rim, but flips a nonchalant finger roll that slips off the rim and out. (Allen did get fouled.) The shot was totally makeable; either a dunk or something stronger than what he tossed up there. Here’s what was interesting: Rondo gave Allen a piece of his mind. Walked up to him, sneered. Snarled. At a 14 year veteran heading for the Hall of Fame! I mean, if you care about the game, think that every play ought to matter, that a championship is earned through the accumulation of effort from the beginning of the first day of practice till the final horn, you had to love what Rondo was about last night. I did.

Posted in beautiful basketball, defense, notes: college & pro | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Sniffing Out a Last Second Play

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on January 13, 2009

So, in the Raptors/Celts’ game last night, after a missed shot by the Raptors (they were down three), long offensive rebound and heads-up one extra pass by the NBA’s all-time, three-point FG% leader, Jason Kapono, Andrea Bergnani hits a three to tie the game with one second on the clock. Time-out Celts. What was then surprising and fascinating from a coaching standpoint was who was on the floor for the Celts ensuing last second play. One second? What do you need? Minimum of some shooters, the real deals and the decoys. So, they come out of the huddle and first thing the announcers did (and should do) is give the offensive line-up, as if to suggest what the strategy will be: who will take the shot? First name they say? Rajon Rondo. Why is that interesting and, truly, if you think about it, illuminating, is what is Rondo, of all people gonna do in that one second? “What is he doing out there?” is what the Raptors’ assistant coaches should have been thinking (and pointing out, pronto)! Rondo is not a shooter. (The only negative in his game.) We know that, so he’s not in there to shoot. There is no time to do the other two things he does well: pass the ball and/or drive to the hoop. Right? No time for any of those three things: shoot (nope), pass (nope), drive (not enough time). And, at 6’1″, 160 lbs., he’s not in there to screen. Only possibility? Alley-oop for Rondo. And that is exactly what the Celts did: curled him off a ballside screen, down the middle of the lane he went, up to the rim the pass came. Timing was off and the play did not succeed but give the Celtics credit for a good play, but a play that with some quick thinking by those responsible for the defense (players and coaches) could have been sniffed out. (Postscript: the Raptors pretty obviously did not sniff the play out because had they, they would have stuck Rondo’s defender underneath the hoop, and instead he trailed him, bodied him up all the way around the screen, a step behind all the way!)

Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Rondo Redux

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on December 21, 2008

Went to the Knicks at Celts game tonight. Glad to report Rondo eschewed ‘the move” tonight. Didn’t need it even once as he controlled the game, beating Duhon and Robinson off the dribble 4 straight possessions in the 2nd half. 26 points, 6 or so rebounds and assists. It’s good to know he reads this blog and follows so closely the advice given here. (Smiley face inserted.)

Fun and interesting game, by the way. From Nate Robinson hanging from the rim with two hands during just about the entire Celtics’ starting five introduction to David Lee swatting a well-after-the-whistle shot by Eddie House to Quentin Richardson yapping non-stop to a follow-up rebound one-hand tomahawk by the super-diminutive Robinson (who has got A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E). Because our seats are close to the visitors’ bench, witnessed the Knicks’ respecting and listening to D’Antoni during time-outs. There’s gonna be a good club in The Apple before very long. Right now they have no size and no defender in the backcourt.

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The Rondo Move That Rankles Me

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on December 19, 2008

I love Rondo, I really do. The way he pulls down rebounds he has no right to have even a hand on; his nose for loose balls that is better than anyone since Jason Kidd in his prime; the clean strips of pro ball handlers at halfcourt (so nakedly embarrassing); his ability to get anywhere he wants with the dribble; his never changing demeanor. Still, he does one thing that just sort of irks me and I don’t know exactly why. It’s that fake-behind-the-back-pass that he invariably does three or four times a game. 

I’m not quite sure why it bugs me. It’s a fairly common playground move, been around 20-30 years: you stick the ball (helpful if you have big hands or a sticky ball – Spalding TF-1000s are good for it) between your hand and forearm and go to make the behind-the-back pass and just pull it back. Maybe it’s because I’m surprised that NBA defenders, players who HAVE TO had read in the scouting reports – “Rondo loves to fake the behind the back pass with his right hand; don’t go for it, you’ll look stupid” – but they still go for it. Didn’t these guys listen when being taught the fundamentals – play the ball handler’s bellybutton? Hasn’t that been taught since time immemorial (in other words, since when I was a kid)? That move, that fake is akin to the fake two-handed pass, the one when the defender’s in your chest and the ball’s over your head and you put the ball with a pass fake behind the defender. When the defender turns around, you shoot and, more importantly, make the defender look stupid. That move, that fake pass is now passé, went out with Bird and the wee shorts. But that’s the whole idea: make the defender look really stupid. I kind of feel like the “fake-behind-the-back-pass” falls into the same category. It always elicits ooohs and ahhhs from the crowd like the Globetrotters sticking the ball under the guy’s shirt. I understand it’s occasionally effective, but I’m adamant in my belief that against a fundamentally sound and alert player, it would not or should not be. Maybe that’s what really bugs me: NBA players’ lack of fundamentals exposed. Also, since it’s a boutique move shouldn’t he reserve it for special occasions, not wear it out, save it for when it’s really needed?

Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

Where Does Rondo Rank?

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on December 18, 2008

 

Augie Picks One Off

Augie Picks One Off

There’s been a lot of talk recently here in Boston about the emergence of Rajon Rondo, talk that places him among the top point guards in the NBA. Celtics’ teammates are pushing for him to be a possible “fourth Celtic” at the All-Star game. Last week, pre-game, Tommy Heinsohn, Celtic broadcaster said Rondo was the top point guard in the East and among the top three in the league. Of course, Heinsohn (great player in his time and innovative coach) is famous (or infamous) for being a “homer” and is prone to hyperbolic parochial projections. (I remember he once declared that Vitaly Nikolaevich Potapenko – for whom they traded away the rights to Andre Miller – would be a top-five NBA center. Always easily influenced, the next day, in a field near my house, I declared, Augie, my Brittany Spaniel, in the top three frisbee catchers nationally.) 

 

Undeniably, Rondo has come a long way. His first year, he split time, actually backed up, at the point with someone who wasn’t even a point guard: Delonte West. (What is a point guard? Someone whose DNA instructs them to get in the lane and draw defenders for the expressed intent of dishing to the open man. This is what they are bred to do. Delonte West who I love as a player was not wired this way.) Next year (last year) he found himself in heaven, a sort of probationary heaven. Surrounded by three future Hall of Famers, his job was to play to his skills, not try to do too much, move the ball, distribute the ball, disrupt defensively, gather bonus “effort stats”, set and control tempo (whether fast or slow). If he could do this, and he certainly could have assumed lots of pressure and succumbed to that, then life would be good. He pulled it off; he was, at minimum, instrumental in their championship success (even dominating the clinching Game Six versus the didn’t-know-what-hit-’em Lakers).

Still, when it comes to ranking players, it comes down to this: who would you trade for him, straight-up? Rather, let’s put it this way: what coach would trade – let’s say for the remainder of this season and the whole following year, enough time to blend – their point guard for Rajon Rondo? (Putting aside fan hysteria, player popularity, etc. The only criteria for the coach would be: can Rajon Rondo do more good things for my team than the point guard I have now?) His ranking would thus be one below the number of coaches who would not trade for him. So, in no particular order:

1. would Byron Scott let go of CP for RR?

2. Coach Popovich says au revoir to Tony Parker?

3. the Suns trade Steve Nash, two-time MVP, straight up for Rajon?

4. George Karl trades Chanucy “Big Shot” Billups to the Celts for the former Kentucky Wildcat?

5. Mo Cheeks Tony DiLeo trade Vitaly Potapenko, I mean, Andre Miller for Ragin’ Rondo?

6. Rondo coveted by the even more diminutive Lawrence Frank for Devin Harris?

7. How about Derrick Rose in Green? Would Vinny Del Negro become the 7th coach fired this year?

8. What would Jerry Sloan do with RR instead of Deron Williams?

9. Baron Davis?

10. Jason Kidd/José Calderon/TJ Ford/DJ Augustin?

So, does Rajon crack the top ten? Maybe, depending on team’s needs. I love Rondo, but, really, if you’re talking top five or top three – I don’t know, anybody seen my Pooper Scooper around?

Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Final Celtics’ Player Scorecards (Nos 4,5,6)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on June 20, 2008

I’m thinking this list is sort of, kind of, in a way, ordered according to importance to the team. That the players as I present them are listed in order of indispensability. This, of course, is ridiculous, and because it’s ridiculous, par for the course when it comes to sports discourse. Still. KG less indispensable (more dispensable?) than Pierce? Absurd. Unfathomable. But, who could the Celts have survived without for the longest stretches against the Lakers (sorry . . . Fakers)? I don’t know. Make your own list. Anyway, it’d be like losing cylinder no. 2 in your v-12 Jaguar. That baby will not purr like it’s supposed to even if you pull the spark plug on any of these guys. (Backing up to yesterday: 1. Pierce 2. KG 3. Jesus Shuttlesworth)

4. James Posey: When I think about James Posey’s worth to this team, I think of four things, all you need to know to understand his indispensability: 1) Jeff Van Gundy is a coaches’ coach. When Thibodeau and I used to watch games in the late 80s, we loved it when Hubie Brown did commentary: it was like being at a coaching clinic (“when the defender goes to double team, you MUST dive to the rim”). I felt the same way when Rick Majerus was doing college games for ESPN. I watch games to learn more about basketball, and when the commentator is a serious basketball guy like Van Gundy, I pay attention. (Though I have to say the guy’s deadpan on the ESPN commercial with Mark Jackson was as funny-good as he is basketball serious-good. I think I cried laughing so hard.) At some point in The Finals, Van Gundy said of Posey, “If I’ve got a team, give me James Posey. Give me James Posey. That’s the kind of guy, if you’re putting together a team, you’ve got to have.” What he meant was: Posey is unselfish, tough, skilled, fearless, never backs down, physical, all business, ready all the time. If you’ve ever been in a situation on a pick-up court where you were one of the players choosing sides and you looked around, the Posey-type guy is the one you picked first if you wanted to win and stay on the court all afternoon. Right? 2) You always want a guy on your team who when he enters the game in an opposing arena, the crowd gets on its collective feet and chants his name followed by “SUCKS”! If that is happening in at least 2-3 gyms, all the better. Then you’ve got something, someone good. For instance, they don’t like James Posey in Chicago. (Ejected? they should eject the announcers. He obviously, OBVIOUSLY, went for the block, saw he didn’t elevate, grabbed the guy, Luol Deng, half to stop him from scoring, half to actually hold him up from falling hard. Technical on the announcing team! 3) Defense wins championships. We’ve known this since, like, the times of the Ancient Greeks. Posey plays defense. Chest-to-chest with Kobe. Great combination of strength, length, mobility, anticipation, intelligence and desire. I honestly did not know that Kobe could be guarded so effectively. It was worse, way worse, than Cooper or Rodman on Bird. 4) When I was done after my 7 years at Harvard, a friend asked me to coach her son’s team in a town rec league. I was scouting part-time, figured, I can squeeze this in. Sixth graders. I convinced them they all had talents and abilities they could bring to the team, and that no one talent or role was more important than any other. Role players. One kid I had could not shoot. I mean, nothing. 4’11” tops. Curly headed jewish kid. But he loved to hustle, had a nose for the ball and understood that when the other team had it, we wanted it and needed to go get it. Heart of a lion. This was 1992. I told him he was our Dennis Rodman. He showed up at the first game with his hair dyed green. I asked him “where’s the navel stud?” If I had that team today, I’d tell him he was our “Posey” and I bet he’d be there with that two-tone mouthpiece, a little bit of the craziness in his eye, the guy you gotta watch out for if you’re on the other team.

5. Rajon Rondo: What a beautiful Game Six. Not just because of the steals, the everywhere at once defensive quality he brought. Not just the pushing the ball up court, running the seams, finding knockdown spot up shooters EVERYWHERE. Not just the drives to the hoop that kept Kobe honest on defense. It was more where he came from – the depths of Games Three-Five where he was, because of a suspect jumpshot and an unwillingness to take it, risk it. He was buried. (Plus the sprained ankle.) Playing behind House and Cassell and even a little Tony Allen. Someone said something to him before Game Six. Someone, maybe he was talking to himself, someone said there’s a lot you can do to add to this team tonight. You’ve got skills and abilities that no one else on the either team has. Go out there and do them. (Chief Phil would have told him: “express yourself.”) No holding back. Rondo was a revelation, the game changer. The one who was on the gas pedal at the start and well into the game when they needed to be playing with the relentless energy and passion of an entire season in one game. And I love his demeanor: never changes expression. Never lets the other team have the satisfaction of seeing him distraught or distracted or down on himself. Heads could be exploding all around him as one guy’s confidence after another is shaken. Not Rondo. As poker faced as Larry Bird was when he was coaching The Pacers in The Finals. And this is a kid who Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe, in an article a couple years back questioning Danny Ainge’s moves (and who wasn’t questioning them) quoting Rondo’s Kentucky coach, Tubby Smith as saying, “glad to get rid of the kid . . . good riddance”, or words/sentiments to that effect. Rajon just rolled right outta Kentucky, right into an NBA championship, an accomplishment the Boston Celtics could not have achieved without him. And, of course, last night at an NTL clinic when a player stripped another, everyone knew exactly what I was gonna say, “you just got Rondo’d!

6. Kendrick Perkins: Perk, to me, is what the NBA is all about, or what it can be all about. I have no idea what his background is, what his parents did for a living, how many siblings he had/has, any of that. All I know is that when they drafted him, The Pope, Leo Papile, Assistant Executive Director of Basketball Operations for the Celtics said something to the effect of “if I had a daughter, this is the kind of guy I’d want her to bring home.” I think that meant that Perk had character. And part of having character means the ability to have discipline, a great work ethic, trust your teammates and be trusted by them. There were long stretches in Perks’ first few years here, where you had to wonder whether he was gonna make it. Least I did. His skills around the bucket were still very high schoolish. Catch one foot from the basket, put his head down, take a dribble, go up and get his shot blocked. 6’11”. Sheesh. The plantar fasciitis he had last year certainly did not contribute to him looking very good. A big guy with questionable mobility to begin with who gets slowed down by injury is not a big man who inspires confidence. But, this Celtic organization, to their everlasting credit, sticks with the right guys for the right reasons and Perk came through. He developed into one of the handful of best interior defenders in the NBA. I really think so. That is hugely valuable. But he needs to stop fouling or stopping getting fouls called on him. At minimum, he’s got to stop going nuts every time there’s a whistle on him. Does he think he’s never committed a foul? Must be, because he’s complained about every single one since he entered the league! Most importantly, I think his teammates trusted him, knew if they were to be in a basketball war, that if they needed a teammate in the trenches, so to speak, that’s he’s a guy who’d stand with them till the very end. This ending, the one he contributed significantly to, was a very good ending indeed.

Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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