The flaw in the game of Rajon Rondo is rather obvious. He has an inability to shoot the basketball well with any regularity. In spite of that, however, he’s had moments during his career where we ogle at his other abilities, as someone who as wretched a shooter as he is normally not an impact player in the NBA.
To be fair to critics of him, especially over the last few years, it’s been a long time since Rondo has been consistent enough of a player to simply rely on his athletic marvels, gaudy looking box scores and ability to dish out more dimes than a change machine to expect him to help teams win games.
Although, that was “so” three games ago.
Rondo has been on a little triple-double streak as of late. It started with Sacramento beating Detroit, with Rondo’s 14-11-15 helping to lead the way, and continued with another victory, as he provided the fantastical looking box-score of 23-10-14.
The key here isn’t only that Rondo put up numbers which more closely resemble Boston Rondo than Regressive Rondo, but it was that the efficiency in which he put up those numbers have helped the Kings win two basketball games in a row. It’s also worth pointing out that these wins are coming after The Big Lead reported an apparent Vlade Divac meeting with players to overthrow George Karl (Divac has since gone on record stating that it is untrue).
Sacramento’s (very) mini winning streak doesn’t necessarily mean we are to ignore how poor of a team they have been. Nor does Rondo’s epic play mean we should pay less attention to the fact that most of the roster is worse than one assembled at a Men’s League at our local YMCA. What it could mean, though, is that there’s a tiny glimmer of hope to not be an abomination.
Here’s the thing: Rondo isn’t going to continue to put up triple-doubles every single night. While his season statistics — 13-7-9 — makes it seem plausible, all triple-doubles should not be treated the same. Especially not for him, as there are different versions of Rajon Rondo who gets those types of numbers.
There’s the best version of Rondo. The one we’ve somewhat seen in the last two games. A version which shoots above his means, while even knocking down three-pointers with some regularity, which makes him an efficient, well-worth it version of Rondo.
Then there’s NBA 2K, created by you Rajon Rondo. The player whose box score always looks pretty, but it took a hell of a lot of effort to get it there. You know, the assists were mostly orchestrated, the rebounds were gathered by way of ignoring overall team success and the points are only accomplished to help acquire another triple-double for the record books. Worst of all, and unlike the player you created in NBA 2K, Rondo’s attributes are no longer anywhere near the 90 or above mark.
Which of those two versions of Rajon Rondo do you think the Kings are going to more likely get going forward?
The answer should be the latter, though I imagine many will argue that Rondo has — for like the fifth time in his career — seen the error in his ways, and the two-game winning streak has shown him the light.
Unfortunately for Kings fans, there’s much more evidence to say that the Rondo seen in the last two games is an aberration. It’s what the cool kids call “Basketball’s Big Foot” or whatever the cool kids say — because there’s really no denying how different of a player Rondo has been through his career from anyone else. Honestly, he’s some sort of a unicorn. An extremely athletic point guard, who despite not being able to shoot, can do literally everything else in the game of basketball well.
It could even be said that Peak Rondo was special. That, when the Big Three was still a thing, his defensive talents coupled with everything else made him a truly special player. That said, Peak Rondo was many moons ago and the post-Big Three version of Rondo doesn’t seem all that interested in playing defense.
Now we’ve reached an impasse for all the different versions of Rajon Rondo we’ve seen. The issue Sacramento has going forward, however, isn’t trying to tap into Peak Rondo for large stretches, but if enough of Peak Rondo is left for them to count on. Rondo isn’t a youngster anymore (he’s 29) and injuries have derailed far greater athletes than him in the past. As is with other stars (Jelly Bean Jr.), guys don’t get healthier as they age. They continue to regress. It’s natural, as Mother Nature is undefeated against us mere mortals.
I suppose it’ll be up to (maybe?) George Karl to try to tap into whatever the best version of Rondo is left, all while trying to avoid that NBA 2K version of him which reared its ugly head many times during the end of his Boston run and in its entirety during his stay with Dallas. On the flip side, does the famously difficult Rondo feel like the Kings have enough talent on the roster to make him abandon him getting his in favor of team success?
Like all things for the Sacramento Kings, it seems like there are more questions than answers. No other player in the NBA over the last decade has been more of a question mark than Rondo. He’s a human-Rubik’s cube. A riddle, if you will. Even Doc Rivers couldn’t solve him while in Boston. Rivers basically just cheated, tore off the stickers and placed them where they needed to be to make it work.
With everything going on in Sacramento, and I mean everything, it isn’t realistic to think the Kings can even rip off stickers at this point, nevertheless solve the riddle of Rondo. But hey, who am I to say not to be optimistic.