Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rondo crunching

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?)


Anonymous said...

Fight the good fight! ;)

Rajon will probably do better this year than last. You are right, he only takes good shots and there will be a lot more of them to take this year.

I suspect he will be more of an asset to the team than most casual nba fans would ever guess.

Anonymous said...

JB of CelticsStuffLive provided a very interesting tool, the "Hotzones" site:
Now, I am a big fan of Rajon, and I am sure he'll improve his shooting stats in the upcoming season. But in the 2006-2007 campaign, as you can see from the map of the shots he took, his outside touch was simply non-existent, and it is not even comparable with Kidd's or Nash's. The good shots Rajon took were mostly layups and dunks, and he didn't even manage to shoot .500 from the paint.... we need more than that, not to win some games, but to keep defenses "honest" when playoff time comes.


Gant said...

Hi Fabio, Welcome.

That chart shows Rondo's shooting for the whole season. What I was attempting to point out was that since Rondo got consistent minutes as a starter his shooting improved considerably. During those 25 games he was one of the best shooting points in the league. In the month of April he did even better and shot in the mid 50s.

It's a small sample and Rondo was getting alot of lay ups- but getting a lot of lay ups is GOOD.

Rondo has a bad outside shot, but he can hurt teams offensively; both with the pass and the drive.

You are right- he does have to improve outside to keep teams honest. He's working on it.

When he does improve, he'll be lethal.

Anonymous said...

I am a Rondo believer and as mentioned after your last article, I agree that, quote "we do not have to worry about Rondo, other teams need to worry about Rondo".

Every basketball player's shooting percentage is significantly impacted by lay-ups and dunks, the ability to get lay-ups and dunks is the key.

Tommy said in a game last year, Rondo does not have to score a point and he will still be a game changing player. I agree 100% with that assessment.

As much as I will miss Al, Gerald and Ryan, I say a prayer of thanks every day that we kept R2.

Keep up the fight Gant, I am right behind you and will join in your "I told you so !!!!!" at season's end.

Thanks for the post.



Gant said...

Thanks Aussie. This is great. Fabio's from Italy- I think. We've got Celtic fans everywhere.

The world is turning a beautiful shade of green.

As far as Rondo- He's will have a much easier time this season since the opposition defense is going to be so busy with the big name guys. Rondo's going to shred them to pieces with his speed.