In the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz, onlookers were focused on the New Orleans Pelicans trying to sew up the victory, but the topic of conversation among many was Rajon Rondo. Specifically, where was he and why did he end up registering only 15 minutes of playing time?
Following the game, Head Coach Alvin Gentry responded to a reporter’s question about Rondo’s limited action with, “It’s just that we thought that having that defensive unit and having size out there was the way we’d go tonight.”
My first reaction was a skeptical one, as Rondo had lasted just 20 minutes against the Mavericks last Friday. In that postgame media session, Gentry had mentioned that Dallas diving under screens set for Rondo were consistently clogging up the Pelicans offense so the coach decided to finish the game with Jameer Nelson. With New Orleans dropping the game to Dallas, many pointed a finger at Gentry for failing to reinsert his starting point guard as a potential reason for the bad outcome.
I’m not here to either support or disapprove of that decision, but after rewatching portions of the game against the Jazz, it’s time to give Alvin Gentry all the benefit of the doubt in the world because Rajon Rondo’s complete lack of effort might suddenly be a significant problem for the New Orleans Pelicans.
To the videos!
In this first example, Rondo gives unsatisfactory effort in trying to catch up to Ricky Rubio and contest his jumpshot.
Here, Rondo doesn’t even bother getting back to his assignment after a simple return pass back to Rubio, giving up an incredibly wide open three-point look.
One understands the need to stay close to an assignment around the paint, but in this case, Rondo literally steps out of Rubio’s way after he had already left Donovan Mitchell to stay under the rim. Ole!
Once again Rondo gives a super poor effort in recovering back to his man after an initial screen.
Another layup for Rubio, this time courtesy of an easy backdoor cut against Rondo.
This was my favorite example of Rondo just not having his head in the game. Watch how he stands in the same area of the floor, waiting for an outlet pass that obviously never comes. The lack of effort to even try and contest Rubio’s three-point shot well after Derrick Favors has gobbled up the rebound is #disgusting.
This kind of lethargic performance is simply unplayable on any team in the NBA. It’s actually quite shocking Rondo saw 15 minutes of action because he certainly didn’t deserve that much.
Hopefully, this turns out to be just some momentary glitch on the season, but given the fact that Rondo has played 20 minutes or less in four of the past nine games and has a history of giving poor effort on a consistent basis should raise a lot of concern. If it continues, Alvin Gentry may have no choice but to bench Rajon Rondo for an extended period of time, which could invariably lead General Manager Dell Demps to actively seek another point guard before next month’s trade deadline.