Atlanta Hawks Should Look To Trade For Rajon Rondo


Rajon Rondo might be looking for a new home, according to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan.

MacMullan stated in a behind-the-scenes video from ESPN’s show Around the Horn that Rondo has told the Boston Celtics flat-out “I will never re-sign with you” when his contract expires at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Although Rondo and the Celtics organization have denied the rumors surrounding Rondo seeking a trade, this story will not be dying anytime soon.

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  • Even though Rondo and company have denied this rumor, the mere mention of Rondo wanting out is definitely going to create a rocky situation among the Celtics organization.

    This rumor could ultimately lead to Rondo and the Celtics going separate ways, especially if the rumor turns out to be true.

    This isn’t the first time Rondo has been mentioned in trade rumors, nor will it be the last.

    So, if Rondo is going to be on the move, who should be in the market for one of the leagues most talented passers?

    There are many teams that would benefit from an elite point guard like Rajon Rondo. One of those teams is the Atlanta Hawks.

    The Hawks currently have a potential All-Star point guard in starter Jeff Teague, but while Teague is a good point guard who has steadily improved each season, the team would be foolish to not consider an elite passer like Rondo.

    Teague has poor defense. It’s something that has been documented time and time again. Considering Teague’s athleticism, this should not be an issue. However, year after year, he just does not seem able to put it together defensively.

    Advanced statistics actually show that Teague has been regressing defensively. His defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) and defensive win shares has become worse each year for the past three seasons (seen below). What makes this even more concerning is Teague has been healthy for the most part, missing just five regular-season games over this span.


    Provided by View Original Table
    Generated 9/6/2014.

    Why are we talking about Jeff Teague’s defense you may ask?

    Well, that’s because Rajon Rondo is a great defender.

    Atlanta ranked in the middle of the league in terms of points allowed per game, ranking 15th among all NBA teams (101.5 PPG). This number is important to note because the Hawks had a -0.5 differential in points, meaning they were outscored by 0.5 points on average per game.

    Although that number may be slightly related to two-time All-Star center Al Horford’s absence, we cannot know for sure as this season was the first for head coach Mike Budenholzer. This trend could easily continue, especially if the trend is a result of the style of play or the players.

    If the Hawks trade for Rondo, however, they would be closer to closing the gap on that differential.

    Rondo has proved to be an adept defender when healthy. Last season, he only had 1.0 defensive win shares. Although that number seems low, Rondo only played 38 games for the Celtics contributing to that poor number. However, if you look back at Rondo’s last semi-healthy campaign (2011-2012 lockout season), the All-Star point guard posted a nice number of 3.4 defensive win shares. You can see the difference below in healthy and non-healthy campaigns for Rondo below.

    2011-12 ★25BOSPG53101991.53.4
    2012-13 ★26BOSPG381031031.22.0

    Provided by View Original Table
    Generated 9/6/2014.

    The concern with Rondo is his health, but as the numbers show a healthy Rondo is very impressive.

    Not only is Rondo an upgrade over Teague defensively, he is also a more adept passer.

    Bleacher Report recently published an article on a new, manufactured statistic called passer rating. The skinny on it is that the rating is a better statistic to compare point guards as it takes into account their team’s performance on and off the court and points generated (Read more about it here).

    Anyways, in this model derived by the Bleacher Report staff, Jeff Teague was ranked 14th among point guards (18.08 passer rating) while Rajon Rondo was ranked 2nd (25.9 passer rating).

    That isn’t the only passing category that Rondo beats Teague in, however.

    If you delve into some more advanced statistics, ones that aren’t manufactured, you still find the same result.

    Below are some on and off court advanced statistics related to passing.

    Jeff Teague

    On CourtATL65.29.215.7+2.0
    Off CourtATL69.17.816.4-4.6
    On − OffATL-3.9+1.4-0.7+6.6

    Provided by View Original Table
    Generated 9/6/2014.

    Rajon Rondo (2013-2014)

    On CourtBOS62.07.416.0-10.0
    Off CourtBOS56.07.716.4-3.5
    On − OffBOS+6.0-0.3-0.4-6.5

    Provided by View Original Table
    Generated 9/6/2014.

    Rajon Rondo (2011-2012)

    On CourtBOS68.68.615.3+5.0
    Off CourtBOS62.77.818.3-0.6
    On − OffBOS+5.9+0.8-3.0+5.6

    Provided by View Original Table
    Generated 9/6/2014.

    One thing we should make note of right away is the difference between somewhat healthy Rondo (2011-2012) and injured Rondo (2013-2014).

    That being said, there are a few things to pay attention to on these tables.

    The first should be the alarming fact that Teague actually has a negative assist percentage for his team. This means more baskets are a result of assists when Teague is off the court.

    Also interesting to note is Rondo’s turnover percentage. When he is off the court, the Celtics commit 3% more turnovers. For Teague, however, the Hawks only commit 0.7% more turnovers. This could be explained by the talent disparity between the teams. Nonetheless, it is important to note.

    Although Rajon Rondo’s offensive abilities may be suspect, he has shown in the past that with enough talent around him, the team can overcome those issues.

    One thing that is not mentioned in these tables is a comparison in the assist percentages for each individual, that is, the percentage of teammate’s field goals assisted by the player.

    Even for those numbers, a similar story is told. Teague’s assist percentage was 35.1% last season while Rondo’s assist percentage was 47.7% last season.

    There was a lot of talk that Rondo would struggle after the departure of the Celtics’ “Big Three” — Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray All — and that his numbers were inflated because of them.

    That proved not to be the case, however, which is great for Rondo as it will boost his trade value.

    How exactly would this help Atlanta?

    Well the new offense that Coach Bud implemented this season relies heavily on passing. The Hawks finished 2nd in assists per game with 24.9 assists per game. This was no fluke as there was a large emphasis on ball movement.

    Rajon Rondo could come in and make this system even more efficient.

    It has been well noted that the Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry loves specialists. That is exactly what Atlanta would get with Rondo’s defensive and passing prowess. Adding another specialist to the mix would allow the Hawks to be able to control even more facets of the game.

    Rondo would also benefit from the talent boost in Atlanta. The Celtics are currently going through a rebuilding period, while the Hawks are coming off their seventh straight playoff appearance — the longest active streak in the Eastern Conference.

    The Hawks have been talked about as potentially a surprise contender in the upcoming season and acquiring Rondo would move them one step closer into turning that into reality.

    Additionally, the Hawks have several floor spacers. This will only help Rondo as it will create more drive-and-dish opportunities.

    When you have Kyle Korver — the best 3-point shooter in the NBA — and a player who strives to become the “African-American Kyle Korver” in DeMarre Carroll, you know there are going to be plenty of opportunities for assists as a result of floor spacing and great perimeter shooting.

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    Although Rondo’s offensive abilities may be suspect, he has shown in the past that with enough talent around him, the team can overcome those issues. We have seen it work in the “Big Three” era in Boston and there is no reason to think it would not work here, especially for a team with two All-Stars (Al Horford & Paul Millsap).

    The Hawks have enough talent on their roster to swing a deal for Rondo, and the numbers say they should.

    What do you think about the idea of the Atlanta Hawks pursuing Rajon Rondo? Should they do it? Let us know in the comments section below!

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