WALTHAM – Rajon Rondo is nearly averaging a triple-double per game through his first nine contests of the season. That kind of production across the box score has been a major boost to Boston’s improved offensive output, but there is one key area the point guard has taken a major step back in this season: free throw shooting.
Over the first three weeks of the NBA calendar, Rondo has been the worst free throw shooter in the NBA (minimum 20 free throw attempts). The veteran has hit just 30 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe (6-of-20), putting him in the basement of the league’s inept free throw shooters in the early going.
Here’s a full breakdown of the worst five free throw shooters in the league to this point: (Minimum 20 attempts)
Rajon Rondo: 30% (6-of-20)
Andre Drummond: 42.4% (14-of-33)
Ed Davis: 43.5% (10-of-23)
Dwight Howard: 46.2% (42-of-91)
Josh Smith: 46.7% (21-of-45)
Rondo’s struggles were highlighted Monday night against Phoenix, when the point guard put together one of the worst free throw shooting performances by a backcourt player in over 30 years. According to Basketball Reference, by finishing the game 2-for-10 from the charity stripe, Rondo became the first guard since 1976 (Slick Watts) to hit just two or fewer free throws while attempting 10 or more in a game.
Free throw shooting has never been a particular strength for Rondo. He’s hit just 61.6 percent of his attempts over his career. Despite the limited sample size though, it’s nearly unheard of for a guard to drop below 50 percent from the line and sink below the likes of Howard and Drummond in free throw shooting percentage.
At Tuesday’s practice, Brad Stevens talked about what the team could do to help Rondo overcome his shooting woes.
“I think just coming back in and getting shots,” Stevens explained. “Being able to say you believe the next one’s going in, and thinking positively about it. Making sure that you take your time, you focus on all the little things that you can control within the techniques. And then shoot the ball with confidence. That’s something that’s easier said than done when you’re in the midst of shooting, when you’re on that line by yourself.”
Rondo also remains committed to putting in additional work himself to snap out of the funk.
“He was back in here last night shooting,” Stevens noted. “He’s a guy that’s going to take that personally.”
After three costly late game misses at the line Monday night, Rondo knows the improvement needs to come sooner rather than later.
“It’s frustrating,” Rondo said. “I work hard on it and I’ll continue to work and get better.”