Bulls Player Rewind: Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo 2016-17 Season Stats: 7.8 PPG, 6.7 AST, 4.1 REB

No player perhaps had as up-and-down a season as veteran point guard Rajon Rondo. Rondo, who signed with the Bulls as a free agent from the Sacramento Kings, went from starting at the beginning of the year, to a stint of DNPs midseason, to leading the Bulls young bench unit, finally to becoming a starter and one of the most important players on the team again. Through it all, Rondo remained professional and became a leader on the Bulls, someone the young players took their cues from and learned from. The veteran guard raised his game when the team needed it most, serving as the lynchpin of the team’s 2-0 playoff start agains the Celtics. So much so that when he was announced out with a broken hand for the remainder of the playoffs, the Bulls couldn’t recover and wound up losing four straight games to get eliminated by Boston.

Rondo became a fan and team favorite throughout the season, with his leadership, veteran savvy and calming presence. The team played more cohesive, faster, and all around better when he was on the floor playing floor general, and Bulls fans everywhere have embraced him as one of their own. Let’s take a look at Rondo’s best games this season:

vs Cleveland Cavaliers, December 2 – In their first meeting with LeBron James’ Cavs, the headlines pregame all focused on James having to wear a Cubs uniform to the game courtesy of a lost bet with Dwyane Wade. But afterwards, the story was all about Rajon Rondo. Rondo showed up on the big stage and dominated the game, dropping his first triple double as a Bull in a 111-105 home win. Rondo was all over the court, facilitating the offense and grabbing assists, grabbing boards and controlling the action. It was everything Bulls fans wanted to see from the veteran guard.

Rondo stat line: 15 points (7-12 FG), 12 assists, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block

vs Cleveland Cavaliers, March 30 - Rondo seemed to step up in big games all season long, and he did particular damage against the Cavs. In this one, a game the Bulls needed to win against a full-strength Cavs squad playing for playoff positioning, Rondo didn’t shoot well but did everything else. The offense ran through him as they pushed the ball down the Cavs’ throats, beating them down the floor and hitting shots all over the place as Rondo racked up 15 assists. Rondo did his damage on the glass as well, grabbing 9 boards in a 99-93 win over their rivals.

Rondo stat line: 7 points, 15 assists, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block

vs Atlanta Hawks, April 1 - As written in previous player rewinds, the Bulls won 7 of their last 9 games of the season to make the playoffs, and they needed every last one of those wins to extend their season. In a closely contested game against a fellow Eastern Conference playoff team the Bulls have had trouble beating in recent years (and a team that had won all three previous meetings with the Bulls this season) the Bulls picked up a huge 106-104 home win to keep their playoff hopes alive, and Rajon Rondo shined his brightest right when the team needed him most. He scored a season-high 25 points on a blistering 61% shooting (on 18 shots), dished out 11 assists and did his usual customary work on the glass. He was huge down the stretch, and this game showed the steady hand and feel for the moment that makes Rajon Rondo who he is.

Rondo stat line: 25 points (11-18 FG), 3-6 3PT, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals

at Boston Celtics, April 18 (Game 2) - At no point in the season was Rondo’s impact felt more than on the biggest stage – the playoffs. The Bulls jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over the top seeded Celtics thanks in large part to the play of Rondo, who orchestrated the offense, frustrated the Celtics, and made the big plays he’s always made on the game’s biggest stage. He was a true master in the Bulls 111-97 Game 2 road win, stunning the Boston crowd by destroying the home team in every facet of the game. Rondo was one rebound away from a triple double, and added five steals on top as he seemed to know the Celtics’ playbook better than they themselves knew it. The Bulls outscored the Celtics by 24 while Rondo was out on the floor in this game. Playoff Rondo indeed.

Rondo stat line: 11 points (5-11 FG), 14 assists, 9 rebounds, 5 steals