July 7, 2016, 1:37 pm
Rajon Rondo had his introductory presser in Chicago on Thursday, and proclaimed the team to be Jimmy Butler’s team and said that the two of them and Dwyane Wade would be the “three alphas.”
There have been reports of Butler and Rondo recruiting Wade to the team, though we’ve been around the block long enough to know that’s what teams are supposed to say and who knows — maybe it’s even true.
We’re not sure whose team it is if we’re trying to ram this into some narrative-driven context, but what we do know is that all three players need the ball in their hands. For Rondo, he needs it in his hands more than anybody and as he proved in the presser by saying he believe last year was one of his best seasons, his viewpoint on the game is both skewed and rigid.
Last season he ran the Kings offense into the ground and into bad places, albeit with the occasional brilliant pass to make the highlight reels and keep 3/4 of the NBA universe believing that he had a bounce-back year. For him to be effective as a ball-handler he has to learn how to make a move and get rid of it if the action isn’t there, which is increasingly the case because nobody respects his non-existent pull-up jumper. Instead, he is going to force pick-and-pops (because the roll is only there if he forces the ball into a bad spot) … or he’s going to force the ball into bad spots.
Wade, who also needs the ball in his hands to be effective, may decide that this is his team. He has the hardware and recent playoff success to do that. Or he may decide to let the young dog eat in Butler, who is more versatile than the other two but is also the guy you want with the ball in his hands. Wade and Rondo aren’t great catch-and-shoot guys, and Butler is better than them at that so if you’re forced into this experiment that’s the way you probably want to go.
Of course you’re going to try and stagger their minutes to reduce the excess ballhandling problem wherever you can, but you’re not getting too far with that even if it works.
Another interesting wrinkle in the press conference was Rondo indicating he liked Fred Hoiberg’s flow offense. Rondo loved George Karl’s flow offense because he demanded the ball in the backcourt and then ran his version of the ‘flow,’ which was just attacking in his preferred sets under no pressure of a ‘set play’ that might be ‘better suited going to somebody else.’
Rondo is as stubborn as they come on the basketball court. Eventually he won’t be able to force his way into alpha status on the court anymore. It’s going to take some stars to tell him how it is. Wade and Butler have some serious cachet in that regard.
Can they tell Rondo to minimize his game and his influence for the betterment of their team? An engaged Rondo on the defensive end, even if he’s not quick enough to hold up all that often, will at least close the flood gates. And a Rondo that spots up in the corner (he wasn’t bad at that last year) and makes plays as a second or third option in the shot clock — that could actually be serviceable.
But the smart money says that there is no chance of that happening and that the Bulls will be among the most interesting teams to watch for all the wrong reasons this season.