Atlanta Hawks: 3 goals for Rajon Rondo to have a succesful season

Atlanta Hawks, Rajon Rondo (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks, Rajon Rondo (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Hawks, Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo, Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Atlanta Hawks goals for Rajon Rondo: Provide serviceable defense, protect the ball

Rajon Rondo, once a steals champion and consistently positive perimeter defender, has lost a step on that end over the years. After getting named to four all-defensive teams, age and injuries have prevented Rondo from tapping into his once defensive ceiling.

Rondo, after posting a positive defensive box plus/minus in his first several seasons, has posted just one positive season in that statistic over the most recent five years.

Some of that has to do with the context around Rondo. In Sacramento the Kings gave up the most points per game in the league the season Rondo was there, not all of that falls on the backcourt to fix. As mentioned, age and physical limitations play a part, too.

But it’s a pattern that has held true. With age, Rondo’s defense has become more lackadaisical (whether his fault or not), as you might expect from a more senior player.

The Hawks need to be much, much better on the defensive end of the floor. They posted the third-worst defensive rating in the league last year, surrendering 119.7 points per game (worst in the league, the Hawks scored just 111.8 per game). You simply can’t win if your opponent can score at an unyielding pace.

Additions like Kris Dunn and Onyeka Okongwu will help tremendously, but Rondo has a part to play in the team-wide defensive effort category. He doesn’t need to be as good as he once was, but better than he has been lately.