That’s how Doc Rivers described Rajon Rondo after his performance against the Bulls last night (full recap coming from Brian or Brendan), according to the Herald.
“We do those (television) interviews in the third quarter, and (the reporter) said that he only took two shots, and I said, ‘Yeah, but he’s the most dominant player on the floor right now.’ I thought he controlled the game with his speed. He took only two shots tonight, and someone will read the stats and say, he only had two points, and if you didn’t see the game you wouldn’t know the impact he had on our team tonight.”
My favorite part of that quote: “Controlled the game.” The season is only three games old, and Rondo has not shown demonstrable improvement in the one thing we all have been screaming for him to demonstrably improve: his jump shot. But he nonetheless looks like a different player. His assist-to-turnover ratio so far this season is 37:5, or more than SEVEN assists per turnover. That is just ridiculous, and it obviously won’t stay at that level (Jose Calderon led the league last year in assist/TO ratio at 4.24).
But Rondo looks more…authoritative with the basketball. Calm and controlled, as if he understands Options 1-5 on every play for both the offense and the defense. He has been Boston’s best player so far this season despite averaging just 6.7 points per game.
But it’s not just the sheer number of assists and the lack of turnovers. It’s Rondo’s ability to find his teammates in prime position to score. Here are some numbers from last night’s Bulls game you won’t see anywhere else, courtesy of ESPN Stats and Information:
Teammate FGAs directly off pass 2-5 (40%) 16-21 (76%)
3-point FGAs directly off pass 1-2 (50%) 4-5 (80%)
Teammate points created 5 36
So, to clarify: Rondo’s teammates took 21 shots directly off of Rondo passes—Rondo would have been credited with 21 assists had they made them all. Rose, in 24 minutes of playing time, created a whopping 5 shots for his teammates. Once again: Rajon created 21 shots in 30 minutes for his teammates; Rose created 5 in 24.
You take Derrick, I’ll take Rajon. More after the jump.Another number I like from that chart: The C’s shot 4-of-5 on three-pointers Rondo set up. I’ve already written about the weird—and possibly not so significant—statistical quirk showing the C’s shoot many more three-pointers with Rondo on the floor than with him on the bench. And they shoot them more accurately, too.
I’m convinced the three-pointer is going to be a bigger part of this team’s attack than any team in C’s history, perhaps excluding the O’Brien teams that let Antoine Walker do whatever he wanted. The C’s were 12-of-24 last night, and they are averaging 24 three-point attempts per game so far this season. Only two teams—the Knicks and the Magic, naturally—have jacked more threes per game than Boston so far.
Keep in mind: The C’s ranked just 21st in the league in three-point attempts last season. I’m already on record guaranteeing they finish in the top 10 this season. I don’t think a top-five finish would be outrageous, either.
The best part? The C’s shoot the three so, so well. They hit 39.7 percent from deep last season—the 12-best team mark ever—and they’ve started this season at 44 percent through three games.
A lot of that is Rondo. He and Ray Allen have some telepathic connection in transition, and Rajon is becoming so adept at finding shooters in the half court.
We all anticipated this team would be dominant on defense. But don’t sleep on the offense. And with the core offensive players aging, they need a little more help creating shots than they did in their spry mid-20s. All evidence so far suggests Rajon is up to the task.