On Jan. 4, 2009, the New York Knicks had Jared Jeffries (their “center”) guard Rajon Rondo and essentially ignore him. Instead of taking wide-open jumpers, Rondo tried to use the extra space allotted him to take Jeffries off the dribble for lay-ups. He shot 1-of-7 and the C’s offense sputtered in an ugly 100-88 loss.
After that game (last season), Doc applauded Rajon for attacking the hoop instead of taking wide-open Js. Via the CelticsBlog archives:
Said Rivers of Rondo’s way of confronting that type of defense: “By driving. I think, just because someone gives you a jump shot doesn’t mean you have to take it. I think that’s been his biggest improvement.”
“I think it gives you a running start when [opposition players] do back off, and that’s what he’s done.”
And now, after another game in which the Knicks ignored Rondo on the perimeter, Doc Rivers is saying this (via the Globe):
Rivers said he wants Rondo, who has struggled with perimeter shooting as well as free throw shooting all season, to shoot when he is open. Rondo was left open for a 3-pointer that could have won the game in regulation but missed it.
Teams are laying off Rondo because he has yet to prove he can hit mid-range jumpers consistently. While he wants his point guard to continue the flow of the offense, Rivers said he also wants Rondo to be more assertive offensively.
“He missed one late in [Sunday’s] game but it was great,’’ Rivers said. “He just stepped into the shot, but those will go in for him.’’
So Rondo has the green light. There will be some growing pains and some ugly shooting lines, just like there were with Glen Davis last season. But we saw the payoff during the post-season.
Will Rondo’s jumper follow the same path? It’s one of a handful of questions that will determine the fate of the C’s season.