Why Getting Rajon Rondo Could Work for the Chicago Bulls

Mar 27, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo (9) looks to pass against the Dallas Mavericks in the our quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings won 133-111. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY.
Mar 27, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo (9) looks to pass against the Dallas Mavericks in the our quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings won 133-111. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY. /

The Chicago Bulls GM Gar Forman may have disappointed fans by grabbing Rajon Rondo in the free agent market, but the former nemesis of the team may actually turn out to be a good fit for Hoiball.

After Gar Forman traded Justin Holiday and Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks for Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon, the general manager of the Chicago Bulls said the team needed to get ‘younger and more athletic’ as they were retooling for next season.

Then, the Bulls picked up 30-year-old Rajon Rondo through a two-year deal, which baffled almost everyone in the NBA sports media and especially long-time Bulls fans who have long memories of Rondo clocking beloved former Bull Brad Miller and tussling with Kirk Hinrich during a playoff game.

What can Rajon Rondo do for Fred Hoiberg that the current guard roster cannot deliver?

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The Chicago Tribune mentioned that Fred Hoiberg met up with Rondo on Friday night prior to the announcement of the signing and both watched film.

The former Sacramento Kings playmaker told Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated website, “I’m excited. Great organization with pieces around me that I’m excited about.”

Denzel Valentine and Jerian Grant — two of the Bulls’ newest guards — excelled for their college teams by having knockdown shooters on their teams.  In New York, instead of pick-and-pop, Grantwas forced to play in a system where he was assigned as a catch-and-shoot triangle offense guard for two-thirds of the Knicks’ season instead of facilitating a fast-paced shooting offense. Valentine won’t have to endure such an ill-fitting situation with his game also suited with shooters around him.

But, both guards will have to play against All-Star guards on almost every NBA team if they start for the Bulls; a rude awakening from the start of the season. Only Spencer Dinwiddie may have enough NBA experience to play as starter for leading the Pistons during a stretch of last season and winning, but that still may not be enough.

As much as Bulls fans don’t like Rondo (which includes me), the more time you take to look at what’s going happen on the court with Rondo playmaking, the more interesting the fit looks than it seems on paper.

Rondo is a four-time All-Star with playoff championship level experience to show these kids how it’s done. He has a high basketball IQ. You don’t see playing smart in the stat sheet. It’s the proverbial “eye test” that shows you these players will sync.

Sacramento would have lost more if Rondo was not their point guard and he played really well alongside a player that’s had his own issues in his career: DeMarcus Cousins. The Bulls’ younger backcourt depth get to learn the ropes alongside Rondo and still play in a system tuned for each of their strengths.

The Bulls will play attacking basketball. That’s Rondo’s forte, rather than more of a slower-paced, big man-oriented offense like Dallas and Sacramento’s games. Rondo sees teammates who can backstop the defense and protect the rim if he gambles on defense. He can funnel drives into guys like Cristiano Felicio and Robin Lopez if opposing guards get past him.

The current Bulls team amplifies his advantage as a pass-first, driving point guard with their tall shooters who can gun it on a dime on the fast break and during half-court sets. Even Jimmy Butler can get his offense easier with rim runs and off-ball cuts, while getting his highlight film lob dunk passes from Rondo.

Last season, Rondo scored 11.9 points, dished out 11.7 assists per game (led the NBA) and hauled down six rebounds for the Kings while posting 37 double-doubles and six triple-doubles, plus a career-high 36.5 percent from three-point range.

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The best thing about Rondo on the court is that Hoiberg won’t get headaches calling plays like he did with Aaron Brooks or repeating play instructions to Derrick Rose every time before games and still not seeing it done on the court; something that came out when Hoiberg was talking about prepping Rose every game by the middle of the season. Butler won’t waste shot clock seconds preening with his walk-up dribble if Rondo is the lead guard.

The Bulls’ underrated scorers get to develop in time getting feeds from Rondo and surprise everybody who thinks getting rid of the Tom Thibodeau corps will tank the team into the lottery next year.

With Rajon Rondo as starting guard and a pass-first playmaker, it’s nice that everybody else will hate the Bulls for winning more than expected, in spite of all the bad press Rondo and the roster is getting from know-it-all analysts who stereotype season outcomes based on past performances.