You've heard it. You've read it. Maybe you've even said it: "The Celtics can't win because Rondo can't shoot."
Grrrrr! Now I'm mad! It's debunking time!
I'm not a huge stat guy. Oh sure those moneyball sorts get all the GM jobs nowadays, get to eat a wide variety of delicious Hostess snacks, and the girls just love them; but I like the beauty of basketball on the floor, played right. I usually don't worship at the altar of numbers.
I'm making an exception here. (Warning, as always numbers may be chosen carefully to suit a nefarious agenda. Please kindly insert diabolical laughter now.)
I looked up some numbers on Rajon Rondo. Here's where I start cheating things a little, because I'm throwing out the first part of the season where Rajon got limited, inconsistent minutes. I'm only using numbers from the games he started.
* Rondo started 25 games last season. Let's measure how he did as a starter only vs. the other point guards around the league who played significant minutes- in other words, basically against other starters.
There were 21 point guards who "qualified" for the field goal % stat by making 3.7 field goals per team game (not my cut-off threshold, I got it off Yahoo).
Where do you think Rondo ranks as a starter in fg% against the top 21 point guards of the NBA?
The answer is 4th! That's right FOURTH, virtually tied for third. As a starter Rondo shot 47.4% from the field. Only Steve Nash and Tony Parker were significantly ahead of him. He beat out every other point in the league. Most by a wide margin.
The biggest reason? Rondo is smart. He only shoots good shots.
Yes he is a liability is certain circumstances when he absolutely must take an outside shot. Yes he must improve that skill, but he's no liability as a percentage shooter. Just the opposite; he's an asset.
A few other Rondo stats found at the same time- measured only as a starter against "qualified" point guards ("qualified" in these other stats usually means a much longer list than 21 guys):
He's a bad free thrower: dead last at his position at 66.7%.
**He's by far the #1 point in the league in steals at 2.4 per game**
His assists rank in the top third. Do you think that will go up- tossing to Ray Allen instead of Allan Ray?
Turnovers were about average.
**In rebounds he ranks second only to Jason Kidd**
This is a small statistical sample (I earned myself a twinkie with that statement) and Rondo is a young player, at point, going into his second season, so there's plenty of uncertainty around him.
He's playing with Pierce, Garnett and Allen now. His job just got a lot easier in many ways. He's fast as two cats, has hands the size of Michigan, and is smart and eager. He has the ability to become one of the best point defenders around.
Rajon Rondo is not the weak link. He's a weapon.
*Disclaimer: Due to the small sample size of 25 games, all conclusions mentioned above may be completely false in which case the management disavows any knowledge of this post. (If that happens do I still get my moneyball twinkie?)