Rajon Rondo had a career night against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night. The veteran point guard might be driving the New Orleans Pelicans’ ship into the upper echelon of the Western Conference.
The 11-year veteran Rajon Rondo signing with the New Orleans Pelicans during the summer was met with intrigue and surprise throughout the NBA world. Slotting him alongside Jrue Holiday to run the offense seemed silly and redundant. Why on earth would any organization or coaching staff have two of their premier point guards be placed in the starting unit?
It seemed like a bad idea at the time. There were some whispers that it could have been a temporary move until Rondo got moved to the bench and helmed the second unit.
As of Wednesday night, we can all say for certain that Rajon Rondo running the Pelicans offense is the right move to make. Look at what the man just did to the Brooklyn Nets, dropping 25 assists by himself to secure a much-needed win.
His performance was vintage and also reminiscent of his good ol’ days back with the Boston Celtics. He was crisp with the fast break opportunities and was only looking to pass and not to score.
In a sense, it made him that more dangerous to the opposing defense because they gave him ample opportunities to score in the paint.
But what was more scary with his passing masterpiece was how well the rest of his teammates performed. Every single starter shot no worse than 50 percent alongside Rajon Rondo. His performance dishing out the ball got the rest of his teammates in rhythm and they looked like they hit the lottery every time they caught a pass from Rondo.
Even though it was against the Nets (who have the fourth-worst defense in the league), it laid out a blueprint on how the Pelicans can maximize their offensive talent to another level.
Rajon Rondo’s career performance of 25 assists (which is also a franchise record for the Pelicans) is a microcosm of how this team should function moving forward. The entire offense was humming from the opening minutes of the game till it was officially garbage time midway through the fourth quarter. This game showed us that if Rondo could be shifted as the primary playmaker for the team, it’ll force the rest of his teammates to be finishers off his passes.
Look at how well both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins played in Rondo’s career night. They barely had to work for a lot of those baskets because Rondo forced the defense to shift around his dribble penetration in the paint. Even the 3-point shooting (51.5 percent) was electric and eerily similar to how the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets have been shooting the ball this year.
Even though Rajon Rondo isn’t the player he once was back in Boston, he still has the capability to be an elite passer in the league. His playmaking should set the tone when the Pelicans hit the hardwood in the first quarter.
There isn’t any need for both Davis and Cousins to force the issue with ill-advised 3-point shots or have Holiday take a contested jumper in the paint. It’s been those type of plays that have hurt the New Orleans Pelicans early in games and cost them a lot of wins these past few weeks.
Rondo and the Pelicans should look at how well the Oklahoma City Thunder have been playing lately and compare their performance with the win against the Brooklyn Nets. They have used Russell Westbrook as a facilitator of the offense and have made both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony as finishers off those passes.
If Rondo can duplicate what he did against the Nets and channel the same mojo that Westbrook has mustered for his team, the New Orleans Pelicans could be one of the scariest teams in the NBA.