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Taking a Look at Rajon Rondo’s Three-point Shooting Since His Return

February 23rd, 2014 at 3:59 PM
By Sean Melia

Rajon Rondo spent a lot of time watching basketball during his injury. He also got to listen to numerous people discuss his poor shooting and how it can hinder his team's offensive ability when he is on the floor.

'rajon rondo, kyle singler, will bynum' photo (c) 2013, Marissa Gawel - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

As everyone knows, Rondo does not do much speaking. He'd rather let his play do his communication instead. One spot on the floor that Rondo is doing a lot of talking is behind the three-point line. Rondo's three point attempts are way up from past seasons, and a high percentage of his total shot attempts are coming from behind the arc.

So far, in his first 12 games back, Rajon Rondo has taken 34 three pointers. Last season, before his injury he took 50 in 38 games. If we break it down on a per game basis Rondo is clearly playing basketball a little differently. He is shooting 2.8 threes a game. The most three pointers per game he averaged before this season was last year when he had 1.3 attempts from behind the arc.

Rondo is shooting the ball 11.1 times per game. That means that 25% of his shots are coming from three point land. Last season, even though he was averaging 1.3 three point attempts, those attempts accounted for only 10% of his field goal tries. 

On the bright side, Rondo is making 35% of those three pointers, the highest of his career. 2008-09 is the only other season that he shot above 30% for a season. Strangely enough, Rondo's overall shooting percentage is the lowest of his career (yes, it's a small sample size). He's shooting 38% from the field this season. His TS% is also the lowest it's ever been at 44% (again, it's a small sample size).

Some of these percentages will return to the mean over the course of the next 20+ games remaining this season.

However, it begs the question. Is Brad Stevens' philosophy that Rajon Rondo should be shooting the ball so frequently from outside? Stevens believes that players should shoot when a defender goes under the screen. If that's the case, well then a bigger question has to be asked.

Is this a sustainable philosophy with Rajon Rondo running the offense? It does not seem like it, right?

If Rondo is shooting nearly 25% of his shots from downtown, doesn't that play into the hands of the defense unless Rondo starts hitting 40% of those shots. Yes, yes it does.

The other possibility is that Rondo is not completely comfortable getting to the basket as he tries to feel comfortable moving on his knee. He has taken 48% of his shots from the restricted area. However, that doesn't tell the whole story because Rondo is also going to the line a lot less. He's only taking 1.1 free throws per game, the lowest of his career. He might be avoiding contact because of his knee, but he certainly is not getting to the basket and getting fouled. He has played seven games this year where he never even shot a free throw. That's not a good sign.

So, between shooting a lot more three pointers and getting to the free throw line a lot less, maybe Rondo is trying to change his game. Maybe his knee isn't quite where he can get to the hoop confidently and draw contact. Or maybe Brad Stevens has told Rondo to just shoot it.

Rondo always said he wouldn't return to the court until he was 100% mentally and physically. It seems that he's playing a little bit differently, and the way he's playing seems to hint that maybe he isn't quite mentally or physically 100% yet. 

Tags: Basketball, Boston, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Games, NBA, Rajon Rondo, rondo

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