Taking advantage of the charity stripe
October, 24, 2012
By Greg Payne | ESPNBoston.com
It might have gotten lost in the shuffle among Jeff Green's dunks and fastbreak blocks, or Jared Sullinger's rebounds, but Rajon Rondo's preseason free throw shooting percentage was one of the quiet surprises of the Celtics' exhibition season.
Albert Pena/Icon SMIRajon Rondo at the free throw line.
Over the eight-game slate, Rondo shot 77.3 percent from the free throw line, a figure substantially better than any of the marks he registered during the regular season in his first six years in the NBA.
To date, Rondo's highest free throw percentage for a season came during his rookie year, when he shot 64.7 percent from the line. His average hovered in the mid-to-low 60s over the first four years of his career, before dipping to a career-low 56.8 percent during the 2010-2011 season, only to see a marginal increase to 59.7 percent last season.
Arguably the weakest part of an otherwise All-Star game, free throw shooting has been the knock on Rondo for much of his career, in conjunction with a mid-range jumpshot that has caused defenses to play far off of him at times. Though the stats will paint a clearer picture once the regular season begins, it's worth noting that Rondo did seem noticeably more confident shooting both free throws and jump shots during the exhibition season. He wasn't shy about attacking the rim and absorbing the contact typically associated with doing so, and he helped to justify those drives by earning his reward at the stripe.
Rondo was actually a perfect 11-for-11 from the line over the first three preseason games, including a 6-for-6 mark in Boston's opening loss in Turkey.
Is this a sign of things to come for Rondo? We'll have to play the wait-and-see game for now, but it's certainly something to keep an eye on over the first month of the season. Without question, an improvement at the free throw line would further enhance Rondo's overall game, and make him a more formidable offensive weapon for the Celtics.