Rajon Rondo Will Define Legacy in 2013-14 Season

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 27:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics during warm up before the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on December 27, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Boston Celtics appear to be all-in on Rajon Rondo as the future of the franchise.

According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, the Detroit Pistons have contacted the Celtics about acquiring the enigmatic point guard, but Danny Ainge has no interest in shipping Rondo anywhere anytime soon.

Now it's all up to him to prove to Danny Ainge and Co. that they've made the right decision. 

Despite immense talent and production throughout his career, Rondo has always been on the receiving end of criticism. From his ability to score to his relationship with teammates and coaches, plenty of facets of his game have been questioned. 

Here's why this season will tell us whether that criticism has truly been warranted. 


Comeback Trail

Nothing tests a player's mental toughness quite like trying to bounce back from injury. Rondo will attempt to come back this season from an ACL tear that he suffered back in January

According to Jay King of MassLive.com, both Danny Ainge and Rondo hope that the Celtics star will be available to the team on opening night, but nothing is certain just yet.

"That's our objective," Ainge said. "I'm sure in training camp, there will be some maintenance. Opening day is a goal of his and ours, but there's no certainty in any of that. We think things are going really well, and that's still a good goal to have."

Rondo's game is largely dependent on his athleticism. He can get to the basket better than just about anyone, and he'll need that explosiveness to continue to put up the same numbers he has had in his career. 

Proving he can come back from this injury as the same player he was is one of the biggest questions he will face. 


He's the Star Now

Even if his numbers may have said otherwise, Rondo was always considered third or fourth banana when Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were on the roster. As the young gun among the three high-profile veterans, the team was never really his. 

Now, there's no questioning Rondo is the lead man in Boston. 

Not only are Garnett, Pierce and Allen gone, but at 27 years old, Rondo is now one of the oldest players on the roster. Looking back at the last seven years of his career, critics can say he never really had to carry the team. 

Now, he has to. 


Brad Stevens Gives Him a Fresh Start

Perhaps more interesting than the departure of Pierce and Garnett is the loss of head coach Doc Rivers this season. In his stead will be former Butler coach Brad Stevens. 

While the loss of an NBA championship-winning coach like Rivers is usually a bad thing, the arrival of Stevens could be great for Rondo. 

He already went out of his way to relate to Rondo that he's a big fan of his game. One has to imagine he's ready to hand over the keys to the offense to Rondo. 

Having a coach who is willing to trust him to mature into the kind of player he needs to be for the Celtics to be successful is going to be key. He'll need that kind of leash if he's going to help turn the franchise around.