Where Does Rondo Rank?
Posted by Steve Bzomowski on December 18, 2008
There’s been a lot of talk recently here in Boston about the emergence of Rajon Rondo, talk that places him among the top point guards in the NBA. Celtics’ teammates are pushing for him to be a possible “fourth Celtic” at the All-Star game. Last week, pre-game, Tommy Heinsohn, Celtic broadcaster said Rondo was the top point guard in the East and among the top three in the league. Of course, Heinsohn (great player in his time and innovative coach) is famous (or infamous) for being a “homer” and is prone to hyperbolic parochial projections. (I remember he once declared that Vitaly Nikolaevich Potapenko – for whom they traded away the rights to Andre Miller – would be a top-five NBA center. Always easily influenced, the next day, in a field near my house, I declared, Augie, my Brittany Spaniel, in the top three frisbee catchers nationally.)
Undeniably, Rondo has come a long way. His first year, he split time, actually backed up, at the point with someone who wasn’t even a point guard: Delonte West. (What is a point guard? Someone whose DNA instructs them to get in the lane and draw defenders for the expressed intent of dishing to the open man. This is what they are bred to do. Delonte West who I love as a player was not wired this way.) Next year (last year) he found himself in heaven, a sort of probationary heaven. Surrounded by three future Hall of Famers, his job was to play to his skills, not try to do too much, move the ball, distribute the ball, disrupt defensively, gather bonus “effort stats”, set and control tempo (whether fast or slow). If he could do this, and he certainly could have assumed lots of pressure and succumbed to that, then life would be good. He pulled it off; he was, at minimum, instrumental in their championship success (even dominating the clinching Game Six versus the didn’t-know-what-hit-’em Lakers).
Still, when it comes to ranking players, it comes down to this: who would you trade for him, straight-up? Rather, let’s put it this way: what coach would trade – let’s say for the remainder of this season and the whole following year, enough time to blend – their point guard for Rajon Rondo? (Putting aside fan hysteria, player popularity, etc. The only criteria for the coach would be: can Rajon Rondo do more good things for my team than the point guard I have now?) His ranking would thus be one below the number of coaches who would not trade for him. So, in no particular order:
1. would Byron Scott let go of CP for RR?
2. Coach Popovich says au revoir to Tony Parker?
3. the Suns trade Steve Nash, two-time MVP, straight up for Rajon?
4. George Karl trades Chanucy “Big Shot” Billups to the Celts for the former Kentucky Wildcat?
5. Mo Cheeks Tony DiLeo trade Vitaly Potapenko, I mean, Andre Miller for Ragin’ Rondo?
6. Rondo coveted by the even more diminutive Lawrence Frank for Devin Harris?
7. How about Derrick Rose in Green? Would Vinny Del Negro become the 7th coach fired this year?
8. What would Jerry Sloan do with RR instead of Deron Williams?
9. Baron Davis?
10. Jason Kidd/José Calderon/TJ Ford/DJ Augustin?
So, does Rajon crack the top ten? Maybe, depending on team’s needs. I love Rondo, but, really, if you’re talking top five or top three – I don’t know, anybody seen my Pooper Scooper around?