Rajon Rondo was arguably the best player on the Celtics the past two seasons, but he was not the team leader. Kevin Garnett was, with Paul Pierce (and a couple seasons back Ray Allen) in that mix as well.
Now, Rondo has been thrust into the roll of unquestioned leader of a young, rebuilding Boston team.
Garnett said that should be no problem, he showed Rondo how to do lead. Which is more than just teaching him how to scowl — it’s to lead by example. And scowl. Garnett explained it to Masslive.com (via Eye on Basketball) when asked what the most important thing he showed Rondo was:
“About leadership. I feel like one of the things I always tried to stress to him is, when you’re a leader, you lead by example. It’s not a lot about what you say, it’s a lot about what you do.”
On whether Rondo can push the new Celtics back to the top:
“Absolutely. I’m sure he’s going to push them to make the team better, and (president of basketball operations Danny Ainge) is going to do just that. The franchise has always been used to winning. They have a new coach and new system up there, so I’m thinking that’s going to be a plus. I wish them all the best, man. I have no ill will towards anything in Boston.”
In the past Rondo hasn’t really hasn’t been a leader by example: He was suspended a game last season for bumping a referee, and another two games following a fight with the Nets; then back in 2012 he was suspended two games for throwing a ball at an official. It’s something he needs to work on, because Boston needs him on the court.
Rondo might be able to lead, but leadership is no substitute for on the court talent, and that’s what Boston is lacking. They have some nice pieces in Rondo and Avery Bradley, but this is a roster being turned over and there’s only so far Rondo can lead them. By example or otherwise.
Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.
The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.
Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.
Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.
It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:
it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.
That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.
Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.
Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.
I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.
This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.