The 12 Days of Bullsmas. Day 4: The Boston Celtics

Posted: December 16, 2011 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Basketball, NBA
Tags: , , , , , ,

Moe Rubio is going through the gauntlet and will post a Bulls related post every day for 12 days.

The grains of time is something that we’ve never fully understood in general. Our only concept of time is that of forwards and backwards, we can never view it in another manner. This is especially unfortunate for the Boston Celtics as they are quickly learning that Robert Frost’s quote about life also applies to time in that “it goes on.”

Indeed the sun is finally setting on the Boston Empire as the Big 3 plus Rondo are staring into the twilight of their long illustrious career which culminated in a Larry O’Brien trophy. That celebrations seems so long ago and in a completely different NBA landscape. LeBron was still “languishing” in Cleveland, Dirk was still a choker and Chicago had yet to even think about it’s future favorite son, let alone embrace him.

Boston is built on defense, spearheaded by Kevin Garnett. KG is the stabilizer for this team. The contributions that he has on offense and defense are plainly visible, but it is also the intimidation factor that weighs in to his contributions. This is the primary reason why the Celtics have probably already seen their championship window close.

What will become obvious in the truncated season is age. Boston will bear theirs in particularly painful ways as they will struggle to strike the balance between accumulating regular season wins and resting their aging talent. The Big 3 have all played long hard NBA minutes. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are no spring chickens. The aches and pains of the season will be compressed in a hellacious schedule that will demand fitness and will.

The mind will always be willing with the Celtics, it’s the body that is the concern. Rajon Rondo, who has been shopped around by Boston Brass, will have to bear more of the burden if he remains in Boston. The Celtics have already laid the framework for their rejuvenation period. They opted to get less girth and go for more athleticism in the Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green trade. They also traded Glen Davis for Brandon Bass as the future in beantown looks a bit uncertain.

The Bulls are better than the Celtics. The past anger for this team has shifted squarely on the shoulders of the real Big 3 in Miami. While I’ll remember what Rondo did to Kirk, Brad and crew in the best 1st round playoff series ever, I simply can’t hate them more than the Heat. The true competition in the East isn’t with the Celtics. Their days of vying for Eastern supremacy are over. The regular season has a good shot at eating them alive, and only smart long term coaching by Doc Rivers will rescue them from the jaws of fatigue and injury.

The Celtics primary concern moving forward is becoming clearer, they are aiming towards a smooth transition period between serious shots at contention without relying on the lottery. Ray Allen can still hit some big shots, but it’s looking like long odds that he’ll have the opportunity to do so in the near future.

Rather than focus on the dreary outlook for the C’s, let’s look at the evolution of Rajon Rondo from a youthful question mark to well-respected point guard. His journey is a peculiar one, Rondo spent two years at Kentucky and was then drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the 2006 draft. He was traded and then handed the keys to a dangerous machine by a desperate coach that was just given new life.

He totally looks like a cross dressing alien.

It was akin to giving a 16 year old the keys to a racing car, but even then you wouldn’t be doing justice to the 16 year old. Rondo was the question mark, the X factor of the Celtics championship run. No one denied his athletics, but his poor shooting would always be a concern. In the following season Rondo established himself as a legitimate NBA point guard, and worthy of starting with the Big 3. He nearly averaged a triple double during the playoffs and improved the shooting aspects of his game.

This was also the period of time that the Cult of Rondo was born. It’s my belief that Rajon Rondo became so underrated, he was overrated. This led to him being underrated again, as all of it came full cycle. Allow me to explain. We know now that Rajon Rondo is a good passer, an elite level passer in fact. We also are aware of his basketball IQ, but all of this took us by surprise, so we began to assign him titles that weren’t fair to him. This happened over the course of time and it came to a head early in the 2010-2011 season.

It was early in the eventual Rose MVP season and there were many discussions about who the best PG in the league was. Perhaps the most ludicrous placed Rajon Rondo at the top, it was by some ESPN guy that I can’t remember right now. It sparked a pretty heated debate that carried through the first half as Rajon Rondo was averaging 15 assists per game. It became painfully obvious as the season progressed that Rondo was not the best point guard in the NBA. Derrick Rose, Derron Williams, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook were all better.

It was this cycle that leaves a rather interesting question. Just how good is Rajon Rondo? His shortcomings are pretty well documented. He isn’t a great shooter, he is probably the worst free throw shooting guard in recorded NBA history and his particular brand of defense is, well, interesting to say the least.

But that’s only half the story, he is a brilliant NBA mind. I do think he has a career as a coach when he eventually retires. He knows how to get to the basket even if the route he takes is, unorthodox I suppose, and he doesn’t shy away from the big moment. He is something of an enigma. Where do you rank a bad shooter with a superb basketball IQ who knows how and when to pass?

And who like the same racing games I do.

I believe that Rondo is probably a top 15 player, but he is not a franchise changer. When you get Rajon Rondo your fortunes as a team don’t drastically change. He does things on the court that are important but aren’t easily visible. He involves his teammates, he plays smart defense and he is the sparkplug in the Boston engine.

Ultimately, it would be wise of the Celtics to move Rajon Rondo for either draft picks or expiring contracts. To do so would be an admission of defeat that would not sit well with Pierce, Allen and Garnett, but it needs to be done. Rondo isn’t a centerpiece, he is a supplement. He isn’t the reason you win games, but he can be the reason you don’t lose them, if that makes sense.

To clarify, he isn’t the type of player that adds wins when you acquire him, he’s just the type of player that will improve your team IQ and not make the stupid mistakes that lose you games. He is a safe bet, but in the land of giants, the midgets need to be a bit more daring to make noise.

And they better show up in some dragonscale armor. Giants are a bitch to deal with.

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