"I haven't played defense in a couple of years. I've been able to hide it a lot with Avery Bradley on the ball. He's helped me out, the young guy. But here they expect me to play defense. And in the West, if you don't play defense you'll get embarrassed every night at the point guard position."
Celtics Defensive Efficiency Last 4 Seasons
With Rajon Rondo On Court
The numbers back up Rondo's assertion. In each of the last four seasons, Rondo's defensive rating has been significantly better when Bradley is on the court with him compared to when Bradley is on the bench.
In total over the last four seasons, the Celtics defense is 5.1 points better per 100 possessions when Rondo and Bradley are on the court together than when Rondo is on the court without Bradley.
NBA.com player tracking data also shows that Rondo's individual defense is sub-par. Last season, opponents shot 10.7 percentage points better when Rondo was defending their shot compared to their season average. This season, the difference is 4.7 percentage points.
Opponent FG Pct When Defended by Rondo
Last 2 Seasons
Rondo also commented on how the Dallas Mavericks defense has actually improved since he arrived.
"Obviously people are going to look at the stats and say, 'Since Rondo's came there, they're down seven or eight points or whatever defensively.' But we still have a lot of room to improve and I believe we'll still get better defensively."
Before Rondo got to Dallas, the Mavs ranked 20th in the league in defensive efficiency (105.1 points allowed per 100 possessions). Over their last six games, the Mavs are eighth in defensive efficiency, allowing 100.6 points per 100 possessions -- not quite the "seven or eight points" that Rondo referenced but still 4.5 points better per 100 possessions.
Mavericks Defense With Rondo On/Off Court
Last 6 Games
In the six games since Rondo arrived, the Mavericks defense has actually been much better with Rondo on the court. They're allowing 21 fewer points per 100 possessions with Rondo than they are when he's on the bench.
With Rondo they're holding teams to 28 percent 3-point shooting, compared to 53 percent when he's on the bench. The Mavs defensive rebounding is also much better with Rondo on the court.
Based on these numbers, it appears that Rondo has already improved his defensive effort. He's gone from hurting the Celtics defensively to significantly helping the Mavericks defense.