BOSTON (CBS) — Rajon Rondo has never been a natural scorer during his NBA career. As a natural pass-first point guard who is not comfortable with his jump shot, he’s a distributor first and a scorer second.
Despite those realities, the Celtics have generally always been able to rely on him for a bit of a scoring over his nine-year career, in which he has averaged 11 points per game. However, that dependence has changed in the past month for the 28-year-old. As Boston’s offense has started to sputter, Rondo has turned into nearly a non-factor from a scoring perspective.READ MORE: 51,007 Total Breakthrough COVID Cases Reported In Massachusetts, Which Is 1.08% Of Vaccinated People
The numbers are particularly troubling in the month of December, during which Rondo is averaging just 6.1 points per game. He’s shot a meager 30.8 percent from the field during that stretch and an even worse 8.3 percent from the 3-point line.
In five of his last eight games overall, he’s scored two points or less, including Friday night’s loss to the Knicks. Rondo took just three shot attempts in that contest, as his aggressiveness has also appeared to disappear during his latest slump.
For a player that is hoping to make max money in his new contract with the Celtics or another team, those numbers aren’t acceptable. However, head coach Brad Stevens isn’t quite sure if aggressiveness is the problem for Rondo right now.
“You know, I think that you’d have to ask him that,” Stevens said of Rondo’s three shot attempts Friday. “I thought the couple of shots that he did take, especially off of behind the screens were aggressive, good looks. And if I had to do over again, I might play it a little bit more high pick-and-roll that may give him some more opportunities to do that.
“But you know when he’s not shooting, he’s finding Tyler (Zeller) and that’s turning out to be points at a pretty high percentage. So, again, I thought that as far as offensively on the floor game, I thought he did a pretty good job. Certainly we’re a team that needs every basket we can get, whether that’s one person or two people or three people, we need to all play well to win.”
Teammate Tyler Zeller also defended the shooting of his point guard after the game.READ MORE: Mass. Probation Department Under Scrutiny Again After Employees Report Structural Racism, Discrimination
“I think he (Rondo) needs to shoot the open ones,” Zeller said. “I think he’s done a great job of that, I don’t think he needs to shoot anymore or any less, I think he needs to take the one’s that he thinks he can make, the layups that he consistently gets, and I think he needs to just continue playing the way he’s been playing. He’s been playing great for us and I know he’s been taking a lot of heat for the stuff that’s been going on, as a point guard, but I think he’s a phenomenal player, he does a great job of pushing our team.”
While Zeller and Stevens are going to bat for the Celtics captain, Rondo knows that he needs to get more aggressive for the Celtics’ offense to get back on track.
“Yes, I do [need to be more aggressive],” Rondo said. “I just tried to take what the defense gives me, get us in our sets. They did a pretty good job. We were taking the ball out of the net for the most part when I was in the game the whole time. We couldn’t find a way to get stops, played against a set defense. I came down, Coach (Brad Stevens) came down, we called plays, and we just let the offense flow.
“When I’m most aggressive is when we get stops, defensively,” Rondo added. “I think the last time I shot 17, back-to-back against Lakers and Washington, those games in particular we were able to get stops in the first half, especially.”
The point guard will have a chance to get back on track Monday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, but until he does, the Celtics offense will continue to face question marks.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.MORE NEWS: Former Celtics Player Jabari Bird Admits To Attacking, Choking Woman In 2018
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