I write this even with rumors circulating that Reggie Miller is contemplating a return to the NBA for one last run at a ring. Boston has offered him a spot on the roster, but unless he has picked up the ability to run an offense, he won't be as important to the cause as Rondo promises to be.
|Rajon Rondo averaged 6.4 points and 3.8 assists as a rookie. (Getty Images)|
With that possibility out of the way, Rondo will be handed the job, asked to play 30-40 minutes a night on a team stacked with future Hall of Famers. The player that nearly held up the K.G. trade is about to get his chance to show people why Danny Ainge was so adamant about keeping him.
Ready or not, here comes the pressure.
Rondo, who played two years at Kentucky under Tubby Smith, was drafted by Phoenix with the 21st pick in the 2006 NBA Draft and was immediately shipped to Boston. At first glance, the move seemed puzzling considering West was already on board and they had Telfair coming in, but you don't pass on a sports car because you've got a couple beat-up Buicks in the driveway.
Rondo quickly muscled his way into Doc Rivers' rotation, while West and Telfair have gone the way of Dan Dickau, Marcus Banks and every other point guard who has come through town since Kenny Anderson departed. Safe to say, the team that was first to give up on Chauncey Billups hasn't enjoyed much success at the point over the past 15 years or so.
Rondo is going to change that. It's just a matter of how fast he does it that will dictate how the Celtics' 2007-08 season goes.
He's only 21 years old, and his rookie season was filled with the customary peaks and valleys first-year players endure. He's not the most vocal of guys, and knows he'll have to make strides in that area, especially on a team that has undergone a transformation from young to old.
He's not a conventional point guard. His jumper needs work, and he'll have to make teams respect his ability to hit the open shot considering the great number of double-teams Garnett figures to command.
The 82-game grind will be a factor, too. Last year, Rondo came to work knowing it was on him to make the most of his time on the floor. This coming season, the playing time will be a given and he'll have to learn how to better pace himself.
He'll have adjustments to make, and the better he makes them, the more effective Boston figures to be. Garnett, Allen and Pierce have all demonstrated what they can do for the past decade. Teams know their strengths and weaknesses.
Rondo is the x-factor, and as long as he operates with the same contagious energy he carried as a rookie, the kid is going to be alright. His impact will be most felt in helping to make up for the defensive deficiencies of Pierce and Allen on the wing. His speed is stupefying, and his length will make life difficult for opposing point guards.
Too bad you can't gain experience overnight. The Celtics aren't exactly out of moves yet, but their best option at point guard seems pretty clear.
For better or worse, it's Rondo's show.