Rajon Rondo has been widely, and properly, credited with the vastly improved play of the 2010 Boston Celtics during the post-season.
What does that improvement look like statistically?
Exhibit A: Turnovers for Kevin Garnett. 2007-2008 Playoffs: 26 games, 55 turnovers.
2009-2010 Playoffs: 12 games, 16 turnovers.
Exhibit B: Turnovers for Paul Pierce. 2007-2008 Playoffs: 26 games, 82 turnovers.
2009-2010 Playoffs: 13 games, 38 turnovers.
Exhibit C: Games played and minutes played.
In 2007-2008, Rajon Rondo averaged 32 minutes per game. This season, he’s averaging 42.5. During that championship season, Sam Cassell (12.6 mins) and Eddie House (7.9) provided support in the backcourt. This season Doc Rivers has tightened his backcourt rotation and neither Nate Robinson nor Marquis Daniels play more than 5 minutes each night.
In the frontcourt, Kendrick Perkins’ numbers have remained largely flat (25.2 minutes vs. 25.8 minutes this season). The biggest movers have been Glen Davis (from 8.1 mpg to 19.2) and Tony Allen (from 4.3 (last on the ’07-’08 roster) to 18.1 mpg.) Rasheed Wallace, often the first player off the bench, is 8th in playoff minutes at 15.8 per game. The biggest beneficiary of these many changes has been Kevin Garnett whose minutes are down from 38 each night to less than 35. He is averaging two fewer rebounds per game, and as Davis and Wallace continue to work effectively with Rondo on the 2nd unit, Garnett faces less and less pressure to produce offensively when he is on the floor.
More rest, more balance, more wins in fewer games.
The bottom line…
Rajon Rondo’s mastery of the offense is getting his teammates into better position to make better plays. Where the 2007-2008 Celtics struggled with inferior opponents, this team is executing all comers. Rondo’s emergence is typified with a persistent will to attack the defense, an ability to deliver the ball to shooters on time and in the catch-and-shoot zone (on the right hand, at the right level, and away from the defender).
Whether or not this team wins a championship is to be determined. Still, Rajon Rondo’s impact has not been overstated. He is one of the primary reasons this team is performing at such a high level.