By Ryan Fortin
Throughout Rajon Rondo’s career, he has always shone under the spotlight. He is, of course, Boston’s best point guard and arguably the best player on the team. But as Grantland’s Bill Simmons has noted on occasion, he seems to save his best games for when he appears on national television, including many of his triple-doubles. Is it true that Rondo actually tries harder or performs better when he is in front of the entire country?
I decided to test this theory by compiling data over the past two years and running a t-test, using his non-nationally televised stats and his nationally televised stats to see if the two groups were significantly different. The results seem to back up the critics:
All of his averages, including points, rebounds, steals, and field goal attempts are higher in nationally televised games. Though none of the p-values are below 0.05, and thus not “statistically significant,” the sample of games is small enough that we should still take notice — I think they can still be considered practically significant results. Interestingly, his assist total is lower, but the high p-value suggests that there’s not much to read into there.
It would appear Simmons is right — Rondo does play better when the most people are watching him. Whether it’s a positive thing that he can elevate his game in big contests or negative that he doesn’t play this way all the time is difficult to say, but it shows why Celtics fans often become frustrated with their talented point guard.