Training camp is nigh and there’s plenty of Celtics talk this week. Here’s a survey of the latest surrounding Rajon Rondo, whom fashion-week internship enthusiasts may know from GQ.
Jackie MacMullan has her first Celtics piece up for ESPN Boston this season and it’s got some info on what Rondo did on his summer vacation. Turns out it involved leadership. Behold:
Rondo has emerged as Boston’s most versatile, volatile, valuable and vexing star. While Rivers has been candid in the past when his point guard allowed his stubborness to overtake him (such as when he contemplated boycotting the All-Star Game last season after initially not being chosen and later added as an injury replacement), his coach said the 26-year-old point guard continues to grow on the job.
“Rondo has been great, just terrific this summer,” Rivers said. “He reached out to all the players and got every single one of them to fly to L.A. and practice together. They put in about four or five hours a day. Paul and KG were already out there, but Rondo got Jason and Courtney Lee and all the other guys on board too.
Rondo also finished in the #12 position in ESPN’s second annual #NBA Rank project. That ranking is the highest position afforded any Celtic this year. Kevin Garnett was second at #21, followed by Paul Pierce who slipped to #29.
Those rankings are endlessly debatable but I’d suggest that Rondo ended up too high and Garnett landed too low (there’s a legitimate argument that Garnett was a top-1o player last season and years hence, when advanced defensive metrics have caught up with their offensive counterparts, we should have statistical evidence to make that case). In 2012-13 though, the expectations are that Rondo will make, if not a leap forward, then clear incremental improvements. They could be enough to move him into the superstar category. Via Greg Payne, here’s Doc Rivers on that very topic:
“Yeah, I’m all for it. I’m all for it. He’s gotten better and better, obviously, and now he’s one of the better point guards in the league. I think what he wants to be is more consistent all the time, just a guy that is a dominant player every night. I think that’s his next big step.”
I’ve previously speculated that Rondo’s game has actually been hampered by the slow-footed ways of his elder teammates but that’s less of a barrier between he and the top-1o players in the league than in previous years. With more athletes on the roster, and Doc committing to a faster pace on offense, Rondo’s skills should be optimized.
“That’s going to be sort of the next phase for our team, is when does Rondo take the game over as opposed to waiting for Ray, Paul and KG to take the game over. Rondo’s our best player, and I think everybody knows that and he proved that in the playoffs [last] year.”
Just over a month ’til opening day. Kinda exciting, ain’t it?