Chicago Bulls 2016-17 player grades: Rajon Rondo
Chicago Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo had a few bumps in the road during the 2016-17 campaign. In spite of that fact, he still managed to prove his worth. Here is a look back at his season.
Although that may have not been a popular move at the time, it was the best decision for both sides, as the team had gone as far as it was going to go under the previous group of players.
The question became: How would the Bulls go about filling the lead guard position? A week after trading Rose, the Bulls signed Rajon Rondo to a two-year deal.
Being that Rondo had a few not-so-great moments with the Dallas Mavericks and Sacramento Kings, this move was questionable. In spite of those missteps, however, the Bulls felt he was worth the gamble.
Did the move pay dividends for the Bulls? I’m glad you asked.
Here is a look back at Rondo’s 2016-17 season, including season stats, highlights/lowlights, memorable moments and final grades.
Rondo has never been a prolific scorer and his perimeter shooting can be categorized as suspect at best. During the regular season, he didn’t exactly make Bulls fans forget about Rose.
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For starters, his 7.8 points per contest were the second-lowest average of his 11-year career. Secondly, Rondo shot just 41 percent from the field, which was the third-lowest conversion rate of his career.
But while Rondo’s numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, he did bring a few intangibles to the table — one of them being the willingness to stand up for his teammates.
Such an instance took place after the Bulls fell to the Atlanta Hawks 119-114 back in late January. Following the game, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade criticized their younger teammates, stating that maybe some of them didn’t care enough about losing.
Rondo did not agree with the assessment and responded with this memorable Instagram post.
My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My vets didn’t pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game. They didn’t take days off. My vets didn’t care about their numbers. My vets played for the team. When we lost, they wouldn’t blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym. They showed the young guys what it meant to work. Even in Boston when we had the best record in the league, if we lost a game, you could hear a pin drop on the bus. They showed us the seriousness of the game. My vets didn’t have an influence on the coaching staff. They couldn’t change the plan because it didn’t work for them. I played under one of the greatest coaches, and he held everyone accountable. It takes 1-15 to win. When you isolate everyone, you can’t win consistently. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a bad teammate. My goal is to pass what I learned along. The young guys work. They show up. They don’t deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it’s the leadership.
A post shared by Rajon Rondo (@rajonrondo) on
Although all parties involved were wrong for not keeping their differences in-house, you have to admire a guy who is willing to step up and be a voice for his teammates that are still trying to find their niche in the NBA.
I mentioned a bit ago that Rondo had his fair share of unfavorable moments with the last two teams he played for. For a short while, it appeared that would not be the case with the Bulls.
Then, it happened.
In an early December game against the Mavericks, this contest would prove to be memorable for two reasons: 1) After notching an impressive win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bulls fell to the Mavericks 107-82 and 2) Rondo got into a verbal altercation with lead assistant coach Jim Boylen.
The exchange resulted in Rondo being served with a one-game suspension for conduct that was detrimental to the team. While the moment could have been a divisive one, head coach Fred Hoiberg was more than willing to put the situation behind him.
“Rajon will be suspended for tonight’s game for conduct detrimental to the team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said, via ESPN.
“He and I met [Sunday], had a good meeting. He’ll meet us at the plane tonight; he’ll be back in uniform [Tuesday] against Detroit and moving forward. As far as the details, I’m not going to get in the details of it. We’re going to move past it, and again, he’ll be back in uniform tomorrow.”
This wasn’t the only incident that took place in which Rondo had an issue with the coaching staff. However, in each case, Rondo and the Bulls were able to move forward.
Although Rondo’s 2016-17 numbers were not overly impressive, there were a couple of instances in which he proved to be a difference-maker for the Bulls.
For example, during the last month of the regular season, he averaged 12.3 points, 8.3 assists and 7.3 rebounds per contest. This includes a 25-point, 11-assist, six-rebound performance against the Hawks back on Apr. 1.
Where Rondo really proved his worth, though, was during the playoffs. In the series opener against the Boston Celtics, Rondo finished with 12 points, eight assists and six rebounds. He followed that up with another solid outing in Game 2, as he scored 11 points, handed out 14 assists and grabbed nine rebounds.
The Bulls won both of those games and took a surprising 2-0 against the top-seeded Celtics. However, thanks to a thumb injury he sustained in Game 2, Rondo was sidelined the rest of the series.
Ironically, the Bulls’ offense wasn’t the same after that, and they proceeded to drop the next four games.
While Rondo did eventually prove he was the right guy to run Hoiberg’s offense, there were a few moments I’m sure he would rather forget.
One such example was a December home game against the Washington Wizards. In that contest, Rondo scored three points and shot just 1-for-10 from the field.
Another not so great outing for Rondo occurred in a late February game against the Celtics. He scored three points and missed on all five of his attempts. To be fair, Rondo did have eight rebounds and seven assists to help round out his poor shooting night.
The ultimate lowlight of Rondo’s season was a five-game benching following Chicago’s 111-101 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 30 — an outing in which he recorded a -20 plus/minus. Rondo later gave his thoughts on being told that he was being saved from himself.
“I thought it was bulls—,” Rondo told ESPN. “‘Save me from myself?’ I never heard that before in my life. But I guess he was trying to do the best thing for me.”
Thankfully, Hoiberg came to his senses and eventually re-inserted Rondo back into the startling lineup.
Recap And Final Grade
The bad news for Bulls fans is Rondo’s numbers were not spectacular by any means. Similar to the previous two ball clubs he played with, Rondo did have his bad moments, but they were somewhat minor infractions.
On the flip side of the coin, Rondo did shoot a career best 38 percent from beyond the arc, which is significant considering he had a career 30 percent conversion rate from distance coming into the season.
Additionally, as was the case in the first round playoff series against the Celtics, the Bulls’ offense played much better when Rondo was in the starting lineup. This fact more than likely played a major role in why general manager John Paxson stated there is a good chance that Rondo will be back next year.
Being that the other four point guards failed to make an impact in the final four games of the playoffs series, it is safe to say the front office is wise to consider bringing Rondo back for another season.
Final Grade: C+
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