It might be hard to believe, but we’re less than two weeks away from the Celtics’ season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the TD Banknorth Garden on Oct. 28. In the meantime, the Celtics have a pair of preseason games each against the Nets and Knicks, and one player to cut from their roster by Oct. 27.
Today we begin a series of profiles for all 16 players on the current Celtics roster. We’ll profile at least one player each day leading up to the season opener.
We’ll start with a player everyone knows but may not know everything about. Outside of the Big Three, Rondo was arguably the key to Boston’s championship run last season, maturing into a point guard capable of leading his team to a title.
Rajon Rondo ran up the floor after scoring a basket in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Born: Feb. 22, 1986
Height: 6 feet 1 inch … Weight: 171
Years pro: 2
Acquired: Drafted No. 21 by Boston in 2006.
2008/2009 salary: $1.6 million
Signed through: 2009-2010 (team will pick up option).
Last year’s numbers: 10.6 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.2 rpg.
Strengths: It’s easy to forget Rondo is just 22-years-old. The young point guard put to rest any notions that is unfit or unready to run an NBA offense by cementing his place as a starter on a championship team. Rondo’s defense is unrelenting. He uses his quickness to beat his opponents to spots on the floor, and he uses his freakishly large hands to disrupt the passing lanes. On offense, Rondo is a top-notch penetrator and one of the better ball-handlers in the league.
Weaknesses: Everyone knows about the jump shot. While Rondo improved his mid-range game (he shot 49 percent from the field last season), his 26 percent three-point shooting means he isn’t a threat from deep. And opponents still give him room from even closer in. Rondo could also work on his decision-making, but what 22-year-old point guard couldn’t? He also has a discouraging habit of completely disappearing during some games, so his consistency can be improved.
What to expect: Rondo should be even better in 2008-2009 than he was last season. For one, he says he’s added about 7 pounds of muscle (I couldn’t coax him to a scale, however). He’s also a year older, he’s earned the trust of the Big Three, and he has NBA Finals experience. And there’s no real threat for Rondo to lose his job with the aging Sam Cassell, shoot-first Eddie House, and a young Gabe Pruitt behind him. Rondo’s confidence is sky-high right now, and for good reason.
Check back tomorrow for another player profile, and give us your expectations for Rondo in our comments section.