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Rajon Rondo’s “Eff You” leap

Rajon Rondo was a trade piece this offseason and that should motivate him.

It seemed to be a typical Boston Celtics off-season. Questions abound about whether or not point-guard Rajon Rondo can become the best player on the Boston Celtics team, he gets involved in numerous different trade talks for everyone from Chris Paul to top draft picks, and he ultimately ends up back in Boston in a Celtics uniform.

The last time this was really prevalent was in the 2009-10 off-season when Rajon Rondo was allegedly being shopped to Phoenix in a package that included Steve Nash and Amare’ Stoudemire. Despite coming off a post-season where he nearly averaged a triple-double for a Celtics team with less depth than the shallow end of a pool. Rondo at the time was entering the final year of his contract and no longer seemed like the question on a potential championship caliber team and rather was now the next up and coming point-guard in the league. No trade happened, Rondo made somewhat of a leap in 2009-10 into arguably the Boston Celtics best player and he signed a contract extension making it pretty clear that Danny Ainge liked what he had in the young Rondo.

More after the jump

There were still a couple of issues with Rondo that have become more and more prevalent as this Celtics team has gotten older. The first thing is that he seems to fear shooting the ball. Rajon Rondo is supposed to be the evolutionary Jason Kidd in the sense that he stuffs the stat-sheet with points, rebounds, and assists yet despite not possessing a jump shot. Jason Kidd eventually got a pretty decent jump shot because he practiced, he practiced some more and then actually unleashed it during games. For years now, Rajon Rondo has been timid to even put the shot up allowing opposing defenses to disrespect his jumper and play free-safety against him. The second thing is that Rajon Rondo is moody. There have been stories throughout the years about how he can feud with players and coaches in the locker room on one day and then be a perfect teammate the next day. The best (worst?) story comes from last years visit to the White House when president Barrack Obama told Ray Allen to teach young Rajon Rondo a thing or two about shooting the ball in front of Rajon Rondo himself. Mind you, this was coming in the middle of Rajon Rondo’s best regular season by far. After that, he seemed to be a shell of his former self, looking less and less interested in what was going on on the court.

This caused a lot of questions for Danny Ainge about the future of the Boston Celtics. With the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett getting older and the window of opportunity seemingly growing smaller and smaller, Ainge had a decision regarding Rajon Rono. Should he build the team around Rajon Rondo or should he move on and try to acquire someone like Chris Paul or Russel Westbrook?

The argument against Rondo was simple. Rajon Rondo hasn’t won a championship as the best player on a team and has yet to prove that he could be the best player on a championship winning team. Unless Danny Ainge was convinced he could land someone like Dwight Howard in the 2012 off-season (and let’s face it, no big name free-agent is going to want to come Boston unless he’s rufied and signs the contract in a blackout state) the right move may have been moving Rajon Rondo for a better player. Still, there was the chance that Rajon Rondo still could make the leap, that maybe he could become one of those top-ten players in the league and be the best player for the future for the Boston Celtics. With the trade-rumors, however, there was the fear that maybe Rajon Rondo would turn into the moody Rajon Rondo of the past.

Maybe another trade rumor is exactly what Rajon Rondo needed to make the leap.

Call it the “Eff you” leap because it’s being made out of spite for everyone that has doubted him. The biggest thing that leads me to believe this is about to happen is watching all of his videos from the off-season. Watch any of the barn-storming videos from this off-season. It’s the jumper. It looks as if he might finally get it. The elbow is under the ball, the follow through is pretty and he looks like he possess confidence in his ability to shoot it from anywhere on the court and score it.

More importantly, he has beginning to show confidence to shoot it in an NBA game. I know the Toronto Raptors are the 99% of the NBA and it was only pee-season, but Rondo looks as if he wants to start making teams pay for playing off him. Not only is he no longer afraid to take it, but he is actually making it count.

This could be a vital change to Rajon Rondo’s game in numerous ways. If he proves that he can hit this jumper, it will force teams to have to defend him on the perimeter which will put them in position to get blown by. Rondo blows by the defender, draws the help defense and dishes it to the open man for the easiest jumper. It will be almost too easy. More importantly than just closer defense will be the final quarter of games. It’s no secret that Rondo shies away from the moment because he is scared of his less than stellar shooting. He may be the best at getting into the teeth of the defense, but it doesn’t matter if he gets fouled and only shoots 62% from the free throw line which if you don’t know is terrible for a point-guard. In the past, he would be scared that he would let the team down and not hit the basket. Now? I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets into the lane more because he knows he can hit the free-throws if it comes to that. Would I trust him more than Ray Allen? Hell no, but now it may not be a terrible option.

More importantly, Rajon Rondo is pissed off, and in this case that’s a good thing. When he was on the block a couple of years ago, he just sort of shook it off as nothing because he was young and still on his rookie contract. Now Rajon Rondo has basically been told that he isn’t good enough to be the best player on a championship winning team and that his general manager wants someone else. Rondo doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that will sit there and say “Damn, I guess I’m not that good” and have his stats go down by like 10%. Rondo seems like a kid who is going to say “Fuck that. I’m going to prove everyone here wrong. I’m going to push myself in practice, I’m going to push my teammates and I’m going to prove that I can be the best player on a championship team”.

This isn’t just any leap. This is a leap that is being set out to prove everyone wrong and that’s what excites me about the Boston Celtics this year. For a team that has depth and age issues, the young leader of the team is going to be expected to rise up and be a star. Rondo has shown the ability to be ohsoclose in the past. The Boston Celtics now are going to lean on him more than ever, ironic considering they were about to trade him for Chris Paul.

I don’t expect Rajon Rondo to disappoint.