The Celtics will be leaning on Rondo (#9) to make things happen on both ends. who can help him be better. As a result, he might be tempted this year to do a little too much himself. The one weapon the Celtics have who can complement Rondo is small forward Green. He’ll never be a star, but he does just about everything well. He has even become a better three-point shooter. Don’t be surprised if he leads the team in scoring again. And don’t be surprised if there are some nights when you wonder what happened to him. If he had a little more of Rondo’s, ahem, confidence, he would be a lot better. If guard Bradley is healthy, he will be Barry Chin/The Boston Globe/Getty Images a factor, but he has to get better from the outside if Boston is going to be dangerous on the perimeter. Rondo isn’t going to nail threepointers, so Bradley has to be better from deep, the better to spread the defense. If he can’t make an improvement, Boston’s attack is in trouble. Smart isn’t going to be making too many three-pointers, either, although he does have promise from the outside. Expecting him to make a huge contribution offensively during his rookie season is unwise. Marcus Thornton can shoot. And shoot. And…you get the idea. Up front, Sullinger proved last year that he can score some, but his shooting percentage (42.7%) is not what you would expect from a four man. Perhaps he should stop shooting from behind the arc and concentrate on being better from 10 feet and in. Big men Olynyk and Zeller have nice touches, but neither is a firebreather inside. Brandon Bass fits that bill, but he’s undersized. No one is quite sure why the Celtics acquired Turner. The whole league knows that he can’t shoot, so everyone plays him to drive. The results are becoming less easy to live with. Outlook The Celtics can’t be considered Atlantic Division threats, and a run at the eighth playoff berth in the East is probably out of the question, too. Rondo’s return is big, because he is the kind of legitimate star other teams in the Celtics’ predicament don’t have. But if Boston deals him before the February deadline, it will be sending a clear signal that any kind of contention is a long way off. Although the pieces surrounding Rondo aren’t awful, none can be considered a legitimate second star that could help a team win a championship —at least not yet. That may change if Smart develops or James Young becomes the kind of scorer he showed he could be at times last year at Kentucky, but it’s a long way off. If Rondo stays the whole year, the Celtics could win 35 games. If he is gone, then another fourth-place finish is likely. SPOTLIGHT: Rajon Rondo Celtics fans were pleasantly surprised to see Rondo in the starting lineup on opening night against Brooklyn, even though he had broken a bone in his hand just four weeks earlier. It was a night of alarming moments for the Celtic world, which learned that Rondo took the subway to the game, rather than fight Boston’s legendary horrible traffic, and then saw him come close to a triple-double in the C’s rout of the Nets. There is no question that when Rondo is at full strength—or at about 83 percent, as he estimated he was for the opener—he is a transcendent player. He can get wherever he wants to go on the court, sets his teammates up for good looks and sometimes ridiculously easy baskets and will score himself, when necessary. He is a full-fledged point guard, not one of these “scoring points”, and the Celtics are lucky to have him. But there is no guarantee they will have him for long, and it’s partly their doing. Rondo has made no secret of the fact that he wants a max deal after this season, and the team has to decide whether that kind of monetary outlay fits into its future plans. This is a team on the rebuild, and devoting that kind of coin to a veteran could be a problem. Then again, teams win championships with stars, and Rondo is right there. Having him around for another five seasons or so wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Until decision time, Boston fans should just enjoy Rondo’s play—and keep an eye out for him on the train.
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