Rajon Rondo and Ben Affleck have the same problem. It’s called the “yeah, but…” syndrome. This disease forces someone to bring up a person’s shortcomings whenever they are complimented. Here’s an example. Imagine you’re talking with friend and Affleck comes up.
You say, “ Hey I just saw Argo. It’s fantastic. Ben Affleck has totally established himself as one of the best directors in Hollywood today.”
Your friend replies, “Yeah, but wasn’t he in that terrible movie Reindeer Games? I can’t take him seriously.”
Now pretend you are talking about basketball. You say, “Rajon Rondo is the best player on the Celtics and the team will be better with him in a leadership role.”
Your friend replies, “Yeah, but doesn’t he shoot like 60% at the free throw line? I still can’t take him seriously.”
Affleck has done his share of terrible movies. And Rondo does make mistakes. He recorded a personal worst 3.6 turnovers per game last year. You can’t completely write off that number or the film Gigli, but just because you get nominated for a Razzie, doesn’t mean you can’t win an Oscar as well.
One of the biggest concerns about Rondo is his shot. It was downright disgusting at times last year. His true shooting percentage was 48.3% on the season (FG% + 3P% + FT%, well below the league average. Luckily, Rondo has a new supporting cast that can mask his shooting shortcomings. Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, and Jeff Green are pretty good offensive additions. Their respective true shooting percentages from last season were 54.1, 53.3, 53.4. (I used the numbers from Green’s 2010 season.)
Those are not eye-popping, but they are better numbers than Keyon Dooling (51.5%) and Mikael Pietrus (50.9%) had last season. A director needs a solid supporting cast and the Celtics have assembled a pretty good one this season. Rondo can get these guys involved. His assist rate was best in league for any point guard who played over 35 minutes a game. If the leader directs well, as Rondo has proven he can do, good things can happen. (Just ask Jeremey Renner and his Oscar.)
People shouldn’t be concerned that Rondo isn’t a dominant, take-over games star like LeBron James. He has a unique set of skills that benefits the Celtics. During Game 4 of this year’s Eastern Conference Finals, Rondo through a pass into a razor-thin space to a driving Paul Pierce. Announcer Jeff Van Gundy even said that he didn’t think anybody else in the league could do that. Rondo can pass and get people involved better than almost any other point guard in the NBA. This year’s Celtics are loaded with guys who can score. Rondo is the perfect catalyst for this offense.
People might point out that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, two of the most vocal leaders in the league, should be in charge as long as they are wearing Celtics Green. Let’s pretend those two are Alan Arkin and John Goodman, two guys who had roles in Affleck’s Argo. They play two hard boiled Hollywood vets who help out Affleck’s character. They’re pivotal veterans, but not at the center of the film. KG and Pierce are getting old and they won’t be able to be in the thick of things for 82 games a year. Their talents are critical, but not the centerpiece of the mission. That’s Rondo’s job.
No matter what, Affleck and Rondo will continue to be berated for their shortcomings. “He’s not the best,” your friend might say. “Yeah, but he directs like a boss, keeps people excited, and creates some jaw dropping moments…” Oh yeah, and Afflecks’ also won an Oscar.