Quietly efficient. That’s the best way I could describe Rajon Rondo’s scoring ability through this season. The fifth-year point guard has been relegated to the fifth offensive scoring option in the starting lineup, which really isn’t much of a demotion when you have a top 5 all-time center entering the fold in Shaquille O’Neal causing the switch in what Doc Rivers needs out of his floor general.
With less scoring needed from Rondo on the offensive end, (his average is down from 13.7 to 11.2 points per game) much of the attention has been placed on Rondo’s increased assist production which has skyrocketed from 9.8 to 13.7 assists per game. Given the murderer’s row of scorers surrounding him, all of them seemingly having career years in green thus far, it’s easy to see why the assist numbers have jumped with so many options to pass to.
As Rondo has taken a step back with his scoring, purely based on the lack of a need for it above all else, it’s crucial to point out one improved reality about Rondo’s game. He has become much more efficient as a scorer and in fact is the most accurate shooter at either guard spot in the league at this juncture, hitting 53 percent of his shots on the season. The best part of that stat? He’s not doing all of his damage at the rim.So let’s start by taking a look at the guard spot FG percentage leaders to see just how well Rondo has stacked up against the competition, with the shooting numbers highlighted below from Hoopdata.com:
So as you can see, Rondo has a comfortable one point edge over Ronnie Brewer and rookie sensation Landry Fields in the FG% column. Other names you see on that list are not surprising with Steve Nash and Tony Parker carrying their offensive scoring loads for their respective teams. Still it’s important to point out that Rondo is just shooting 4 less attempts per game than either of these guys. So while the 25-year-old’s overall volume may be down, it’s still comparable to other stud point guards in the league.
Now the other argument I can’t wait to hear on this is quite simple. “Yeah, well he may be good at shooting around the basket, but he still can’t shoot from the outside!” And that argument would be wrong, for this year anyway. The guy can’t shoot from some places on the floor such as the free throw line, but that’s another story for another day.
Lucky for Rondo we are talking about FG percentages here and his mid-range and outside games have stacked up quite well so far compared to the rest of the league.
Take a close look at those numbers. Only half of Rondo’s scoring attempts are coming at the rim this year and he’s finishing at a very respectable 60 percent clip, which is actually a step down from his number last year. However, the good news for C’s fans is his number from the dreaded mid-range where Rondo is shooting a career high 45 percent through 16 games. The even better news in that department? That’s while taking more shots than almost any other year from that distance at 2.6/game from the 16-23 feet area.
Put it all together and you have a point guard that is quietly maturing extremely well into his role as the fifth scoring option in a starting lineup. In past years, Rondo has had to shoulder more of the offensive load to make up for the injuries elsewhere to guys like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Even with the injuries this year, there’s plenty of scoring to go around and number 9 is picking his spots quite well.
* All numbers taken from HoopData.com