Any time a team trades away a franchise player for spare parts and draft picks, there is sure to be an immediate decline in the team’s performance. The good news for Celtics fans is that Rajon Rondo was not a franchise player. Perhaps we were misled by all those all-star appearances and classic playoff performances during the Big Three era, but over the last couple years, mainly the first month and a half of this season, one thing has become clear. Rondo is a player that absolutely needs players around him that are better than him in order to play at his highest level.
That’s not to say that he hasn’t remained one of the best passers in the NBA, but without future hall of famers around him to help elevate his play, he lost all ability to score. When playing with those hall of famers from 2007-2013, Rondo’s field goal percentage was an impressive 48%. Since Pierce and Garnett were traded after the 2012-13 season, it has dropped all the way down to 40%. Not to mention his 8.3 points per game this season is his lowest total since his rookie year in 2006-07.
The bottom line is that less scorers around Rondo = more attention on Rondo = less open layups for Rondo, which is the only shot he has the ability to make. If the best player on your team is a point guard who can’t shoot jumpers or free throws then you’re in trouble. I think Danny Ainge finally recognized that so he pulled the trigger. Even though they didn’t get any great players in return, I still see the Celtics benefiting from this trade. It opens the door for more of their young players to step up and showcase their talents. This is a team that doesn’t have a go-to guy on offense, so in order for them to be successful, everyone needs to be involved. Rondo was someone who dominated the ball far too much given his lack of a jump shot.
This is also an upgrade on the defensive end of the floor. Marcus Smart has already proven himself to be an elite defender in this league and having him and Bradley in the same starting backcourt should be fun to watch. Rondo is a decent defender, but not nearly as suffocating as Smart.
To the fans who were pinning Rondo as the future of the Celtics, I’m sorry that he isn’t the player you thought he was. I’m sure he will thrive in Dallas with an extremely talented starting five surrounding him, but there was simply no place for him on this team.