Zach Lowe may have departed Celtics Hub for greener pastures over at SI.com, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still link to him.
Today on his blog The Point Forward, Zach breaks down the 12 most anticipated pick-and-roll combinations of the upcoming season. Conspicuously missing from his rankings is anyone in a green jersey (unless you count those weird times where the New York Knicks or Chicago Bulls wear green, which I don’t).
I am not saying Zach is wrong to not include a Celtic pick-and-roll combination, it just would not be that far-fetched to do so. The Celtics added two prominent post players in Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal. These players are going to be taking over the pick-and-roll duties for the Boston bench this season. The latter of the combo also has some well-chronicled issues defending the pick-and-roll– a huge storyline of this upcoming season– the success of which is something Celtics’ fans are undoubtedly anticipating.
While any of those pick-and-roll combinations could have made their way onto Zach’s list, I’d say the highly anticipated Celtic pick-and-roll combination involves an improved Rajon Rondo and a rejuvenated Kevin Garnett. The definitive proof is not quite there yet but in the land of “what ifs”– the land where anticipation level is king– Rondo to KG could end up being the best combination of all.
Just like the Mo Williams to J.J. Hickson pick-and-roll, Rondo to Garnett is not new. That being said, the dynamic of this on-court relationship becomes much different if Garnett is explosive again and Rondo begins to consistently hit the elbow jumper. KG has shown flashes in the preseason thus far of regaining the explosiveness that made him such an unstoppable force. He is elevation to snag rebounds, he is beginning to throw down alley-oops again, and he is running circles around the other members of his “over-30” fraternity.
Put the explosiveness back in the pick-and-roll and it actually lives up to its namesake. In order words, Garnett actually rolls to the basket instead of “popping” out for a 20 footer.
The same cannot be said for Rajon Rondo. Garnett has grown accustomed to “popping” out for jumpers, Rondo has used his explosiveness to power his way to the basket while avoiding any outstretched arms of seven-footers. This explosiveness coupled with Rondo’s inability to hit jumpshots has led his opponents to exclusively go underneath picks instead of fighting over the top. Rondo’s stroke this preseason (something I will delve into at length later on) has seen some marked improvement. He is still taking most of his jumpshots at expiring shot clocks, but that does not mean the confidence to square up and knock it down is not there.
Regardless of the outcome, the Rajon Rondo to Kevin Garnett pick-and-roll combination is definitely something to watch out for as the season starts and progresses. It has the potential to reach unstoppable levels. Unfortunately, it also has the potential to crash and burn.