Rajon Rondo belongs to a crop of players who have been labeled with a certain stigma — one of ego, arrogance, and an unwillingness to cooperate with higher basketball authority. Rondo’s stint with the Dallas Mavericks put an onus on that stigma before he turned in a league-leading assist season with the Sacramento Kings.
When the Chicago Bulls acquired Rajon Rondo this summer, it was strange, but not exactly shocking given the team needed a new point guard after dealing away Derrick Rose. Signing Rondo in free agency was a cheap way to salvage some competitiveness.
It was adding Dwyane Wade that made this team more fascinating, but even more difficult to visualize.
Rondo’s blend with the likes of Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler is perceived as a dilemma on the surface. Head coach Fred Hoiberg has a challenge in that his three best players aren’t going to space the floor with outside shooting.
Despite that dynamic, Hoiberg has faith in Rondo to be successful in his system (via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago):
“The biggest thing is we have multiple playmakers now, we have guys who can get in and break down the defense,” Hoiberg said. “That’s the most important thing to have on an NBA roster is multiple ball handlers, multiple playmakers. Bigs who are gonna set screens and put pressure on the rim.”
“Rondo is a point guard who I think will thrive in the system we like to run and then to get Dwyane, we didn’t have to give up any of the young pieces in the process,” Hoiberg said. “We’re able to stay competitive with players with championship experience. To pair those two guys with Jimmy Butler, it’ll be a dynamic and exciting backcourt.”
Hoiberg’s style is a switch from what the Bulls experienced with Tom Thibodeau in seasons past. Hoiberg more so fits the bill of the modern offensive NBA trend of pace, outside shooting, ball movement, and positional versatility. Derrick Rose wasn’t seen as the ideal model for a point guard in Hoiberg’s system, one who can shoot the three ball consistently.
Rajon Rondo is even less of a fit in that regard. Regardless, Hoiberg is clinging to something that is of equal value when it comes to Rondo — playmaking.
Rondo is going to make things happen on the floor, in any system. Now he’s playing with two star wing talents and some potent young weapons. Hoiberg has every reason to feel comfortable handing Rondo the keys to the offense as floor general, because that’s the best way for Rondo to make good on his prediction and thrive.