The question: If Pierce/Garnett/Rondo is injured for the week/month/season, what is your plan if you’re Doc/Danny? Thursday, Paul Pierce, yesterday Kevin Garnett, today Rajon Rondo—is throwing up your hands, tearing your hair, and wailing at the moon an option? If there was a drop off from Pierce to Jeff Green, and a ravine (gulch? gorge?) between Garnett and Chris Wilcox; the Rondo to Dooling difference would be a chasm? a lightyear? infinity minus 1?
Dateline: September 8, 2012––22 days until the start of training camp!
If Rondo is the straw that stirs the drink, the spark that ignites the motor, the leader of the band; does that mean that his injury leaves us in a silent car motionless at the side of the road drinking tasteless liquid at the top of a glass with the good stuff at the bottom? If Rondo is the smartest point guard Doc has ever coached, seeing plays and opportunities even before they develop, and making passes through the eye of a needle; then Keyon Dooling is a short shooting guard who sees only what has already happened, recognizes opportunities only after the window has begun to close, and passes a little late, a little slow, and a little off target. If Keyon is your primary point guard, you better have an All-Star supporting cast so Dooling can give the ball up and go stand along the arc where he is at least a mild threat as a three-point shooter. Avery Bradley filled in some at the point and while he brought none of the game savvy of Rondo, he at least did offer lock-down defense at the other end.
This year we add Jason Terry to the mix, and I am hopeful that he can at least initiate offense by throwing the defense into disarray running the pick and roll/pop. Terry definitely teeters on the shoot-first PG side of the ledger, but I am hopeful this is more representative of the role he has played in recent years as sixth-man sparkplug. Dionte Christmas saw some time at the point in summer league (especially after Moore was pulled off the floor to go to Houston to be waived irretrievably away from the Celtics) and wasn’t horrible, at least against the less organized and cut-below-average SL competition. Even Courtney Lee has seen spot duty at the point, thought it hardly seems like something to seek more of.
Worst case, Rondo suffers a career-ending injury (and he is such a competitor that I wouldn’t put it beyond him to get up out of his casket and pull on his basketball togs), then I would have to answer in the same vein as losing Garnett permanently. Light the fuse to the dynamite and go back to the drawing board. For gory details see yesterday’s column and now add in Garnett as a piece to pry picks and development players out of a contender. I do not wish to contemplate this black hole further.
For a day or a week, there are fall backs. Not great ones, not even good ones, but perhaps serviceable ones. Plug in Terry, back him up with Dooling, and perhaps work Christmas into the mix. You have 70 minutes of shooting guard available in Lee and Bradley so consider you could play Avery at the point for up to 20 minutes. None of these are the quarterback that Rajon provides, none pass as brilliantly, none see the court as well; but then nobody else in the league does either, except perhaps Nash. No, these guys can get the ball up the court (especially with a shooting guard to help share the load), and provide a modicum of offense of their own. Terry can even initiate running the pick and roll/pop which should open up opportunities for others. None will provide the decision making or precision passing on the break, but Bradley will push the ball up court rapidly and give it off willingly. Hopefully with a full training camp all will be able to make the first pass to start Doc’s plays-of-myriad-options. The bright spot is that in Garnett and Sullinger, these limited point guards will have high post passers around which the offense can operate. If I’m Doc, and Rondo’s out, I want either Kevin or Jared in at high post to take the strain off my replacement PG’s.
Harken back to the days of the original Big Three. Neither Ainge nor DJ were traditional point guards, McHale was a black hole, but Larry Legend personified the point forward. A team needs good and willing passers. Great passers are a wonderful luxury but good and willing will work. Also the best passing doesn’t have to come from the point guard. It’s probably preferable but an understanding of and willingness to work within a team framework, combined with unselfish passing across the board, makes the offense more unpredictable and opportunistic.
Yeah I think we can get by without Rondo for a week or two, but you can bet I’ll be sending a get well soon card every day.
Boston, and all points beyond