In the Bonus: Rondo improving around the basket

In the Bonus: Rondo improving around the basket
April 14, 2014, 4:00 pm
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PHILADELPHIA — For all the noticeable improvements in Rajon Rondo's game, finishing around the basket remains one of those close, but-not-quite-there-yet markers on his road to recovery.

If you're going by the eye test of watching him play, it's clear that Rondo is shooting better around the basket now compared to when he returned to the lineup in January.

But how much better?

Well the numbers tell us that the narrative involving Rondo's shooting improvement around the basket, is no tall tale.

In the month of April, the four time All-Star is taking 62.9 percent of his shots in the paint which is a significantly higher percentage when you consider that shots in the paint only account for 52 percent of his shots the rest of the season.

The increased shot attempts around the basket this month stem from a noticeable decline in the percentage of mid-range jumpers he takes which is down to 17.1 percent in April, compared to 21 percent the rest of the season. Also, 3-pointers account for 20 percent of Rondo's shot attempts in April, down from 27 percent the rest of the season.

But getting shots in the paint is just part of the battle.

It won't do him or the Celtics any good if he's getting the shots and they don't fall in.

But that's definitely not the case of late with Rondo, one of the league's best at dribble penetrating into the lane to either score or kick out to teammates for an easier shot and for Rondo of course, another assist.

Since he re-joined the Celtics in January after missing the first few months of the season sitting out following a torn right ACL injury in January of 2013, the statistical strides he has made at getting to the basket and finishing, is readily apparent.

Rondo shot 63.6 percent in the paint this month, a significant increase compared to how he shot the ball in March (43.6) and February (44.4), and also a number that more than doubles the 31 percent he shot in the paint in January.

While there is indeed improvement, Rondo isn't close to being completely satisfied with where he's at right now.

"I'll get there," Rondo said recently. "My touch around the rim is off."

But he can still rebound and defend and make an impact in other ways.

"We don't worry too much about Rondo," said Celtics guard Phil Pressey. "He's such a great player, a great leader, he'll figure out what has to be done or what he needs to do,  to help us win games."