At best, they’d get one of the NBA’s most gifted passers and one of the craftiest defenders; at worst, they’d cramp up their historically efficient offensive styling while playing an overrated ball-hawk.
Thus far, the gamble has half paid off. While the Mavericks are still adjusting to Rondo running the offence, their defence has improved with Rondo in the fold. Since the trade, the Mavericks have a 100.6 defensive rating, eighth in the NBA, over four points better than their pre-Rondo defensive rating.
The reason for the improvement: Rondo’s now trying on defence, as he told Mass Live:
“I haven’t played defence in a couple of years. I’ve been able to hide it a lot with Avery Bradley on the ball. He’s helped me out, the young guy. But here they expect me to play defence. And in the West, if you don’t play defence you’ll get embarrassed every night at the point guard position. I took it as a challenge (for) myself. ”
Rondo’s defensive abilities have been on display recently. In wins over the Thunder and Wizards, Rondo helped hold Russell Westbrook and John Wall to 18 points on 6-23 shooting and 11 points on 4-7 shooting, respectively.
With Rondo up top and center Tyson Chandler down low, the Mavericks have a strong foundation on defence. As Rondo admitted, his defence had been absent in recent years, an often under-looked aspect for a player who was once the Celtics’ best perimeter defender during their championship years.
The Mavs’ spacious, free-flowing offence prior to the trade has taken a hit because of Rondo’s ball-dominance and lack of shooting, but they’re still above-average on that end of the floor. If Rondo can keep up the defensive improvements, the Mavs have to be considered title contenders, and the trade will have paid off.
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