Let’s be real here, Rajon Rondo has had one of the best postseason runs by any point guard ever, highlighted by his 44 point 10 assist night in Game 2 against Miami. He’s had a double-double 12 out of 17 games , including three triple doubles. His playoff performance so far has led many people to say he is the best point guard in the league. It’s hard to deny these calls for Rondo to wear the crown. He has the one coveted ring that qualifies him as a “winner” and he’s helping the Celtics make a run at another one.
Number 9’s court vision and passing ability rivals anyone in the game today and he’s helping an aging team beat two of the best players in the league. However, people are jumping the gun a little early right now. Did we already forget about last year’s MVP Derrick Rose? Or how about Chris Paul, who was one of the most coveted players in last year’s offseason. Can we even forget Deron Williams, who is one of the elite PG’s in the league despite being on the Nets.
Here are the top 5 reasons why Rondo is still not the best point guard in the league:
5. Trade Buzz
Bringing you back to before the season started and the hype for Rondo had yet to begin, the Celtics were desperate to make one last run with the Big 3 in Boston. As the lockout ended and teams were making a mad rush to trade for players and sign free agents, the C’s took interest in New Orleans Chris Paul. Paul, as I mentioned before, was a hot commodity in the offseason as there were many teams looking to trade for him. Oddly enough the Celtics were one of those teams.
There were many scenarios that circulated but they all ended with the Celtics reportedly willing to trade Rondo for Paul. Now answer this question, if Rondo is the best point guard in the league, why would the C’s want to trade him away for another point guard. No team will ever suggest trading their top tier player, so obviously before this season, Boston didn’t view Rondo as that player yet. It doesn’t matter if Danny Ainge denied these trade rumors or put his confidence in Rondo, if Rondo was better than Paul this conversation would have never happened.
4. MVP Voting
This season was one of Rondo’s best in his career as he averaged around 11 points, 11 assists and 5 rebounds a game. At the end of the season people were already starting to say he was the best point guard in the league. Yet, when it came down to the end of the season accolades, Rondo fell to third among point guards. The MVP gauges how well a player preformed during the regular season and how valuable they were to their respective team.
Paul came in third with six first place votes. Tony Parker, a point guard I have yet to mention, came in fifth with four first place votes, while Rondo came in eighth with zero first place votes. That’s not all, Paul was All-NBA First Team, Parker was All-NBA Second Team and Rondo was All-NBA third team. Wait there’s more, Paul was All-NBA Defensive First Team and Rondo was All-NBA Defensive Second Team. It appears at the end of the season that the people have spoken on who is the best point guard in the league.
So far we have established that Paul was considered the best point guard in the league before the season and by the voting at the end of the season, not much as has changed.
The biggest criticism that scouts say of Rondo is that he doesn’t have an outside shot. The Heat attempted to put that to the test in Game 2 this year. While they got the win, Rondo scored those 44 points, most of which were on outside jump shots. However, his overall percentages from the outside are nowhere near impressive. Teams continue to sag off him in an effort to stop him from getting to the rack. That can certainly limit his scoring options, but it also opens up the floor for him for passing. With exceptional court vision as it is, not having a defender in your face all the time will make it that much easier to make the right pass. PG’s such as Paul, Parker and even Rose during his MVP season must make their passes when the defenders are in their grill all the time. If Rondo can consistently hit that jump shot players will start to play up on him and then he will be forced to play like the other point guards.
On the defensive end, there’s no denying that he can be a great defender. With a 6’10 wing span, Rondo disrupts the passing lane and is around the top in the league in steals. He can also matchup against much taller players. That being said, there are times Rondo takes too many chances and allows his opponents to blow right by him. Case in point, in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Divisional Finals when Jrue Holiday went off for 20 points to give the 76ers the win. Holiday blew right by Rondo countless times as Rondo tried to go for the steal and then back tap it. This is only one instance, but it was a key one that forced a Game 7 against the 76ers. To be the best point guard in the league, you need the total package and Rondo doesn’t have that yet.
2. Skewed Statistics
To Rondo’s credit he was able to help the Celtics put together a great run at the end of the season and put themselves at the number 4 spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. With the Big 3 all in and out of the lineup all season, the C’s floor general was able to keep the team composed and weather the storm. Averaging 11 and 11 with stars such as Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett is impressive enough. However, the Celtics were still ranked 26th in the league in total offense. Paul, Rose and Parker’s teams were all ranked in the top 20 in that category. Not to mention Steve Nash, who averaged around the same numbers (12 points and 10 assists a game) led the Phoenix Suns to an 8th ranking in total offense. Now you may be saying, well the Suns just missed out on the playoffs. Well, they were a few games away from making it to the postseason with pretty much a D-League roster. If Marcin Gortat is your leading scorer than you know you have problems. Yet, Nash proved how invaluable he is at the point guard position. It’ll be interesting to see if Rondo can do the same when the aging Big 3 of the C’s are all gone.
Before people start jumping down my throat, Rondo’s playoffs statistics are much better than that (Almost 17 and 12 per game). Up until Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, Parker was having an impeccable playoff run as well. Averaging 19.6 points and 6.4 assists per game while leading the Spurs to a 10-0 streak in the playoffs. So how can you put Rondo ahead of Parker? Also, with Nash putting up the same stats in the regular season and having clearly played on a team not up to the same caliber as the Celtics, why couldn’t he do the same thing if roles were reversed?
The fact of the matter is the roles aren’t reversed and Rondo is utilizing all of the weapons he has around him to the fullest. Look at it this way though, in the last two rounds the Celtics played the 76ers and the Heat. The 76ers were the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference and the Heat are without their star power forward Chris Bosh. Without Bosh, Garnett has free reign to do what he wants down low, giving Rondo easy assist opportunities. In this case, Rondo’s statistics are skewed when comparing them to Paul and the Clippers who were eliminated by the Spurs. However, if the Bulls hadn’t lost Rose to a knee injury in Game 1 of the playoffs, Rondo most likely would have had to play against one of the best defenses in the league. You can say the same thing if the Heat hadn’t lost Bosh, the lane would have been more clogged up and it may have been tougher for him to find open players cutting to the basket. All of these questions and thoughts are questions and speculations of what could have been, yet they do point out that Rondo’s playoffs stats, while impressive, have been helped by some special circumstances.
1.Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Derrick Rose
These three point guards are what stand between Rondo and the title of being the best point guard in the league. Rondo’s amazing postseason statistics have people caught as prisoners in the moment. 17 postseason games is not enough to don him as the best PG. Chris Paul has dominated the league ever since he arrived taking an underdog team such as the Hornets all the way to the Western Conference Finals. This is the first season Paul has had a legitimate star on his team. Rondo has had the benefit of having three stars on his team for a majority of his career. Even as he joined the Nets, Deron Williams has flirted with 20 and 10 every year. As the Nets missed out on a 1st round draft pick this year and most likely Dwight Howard, there’s a good chance D-Will is out to a better team. When that happens people will quickly see why he’s still one of the best in the game. Last but not least, Derrick Rose fell victim to the injury bug this season and missed a good portion of it. Despite that, Rose averaged 23 points and 9 assists this year. That’s more than double the points of Rondo. Rose is three years younger than Rondo and already has an MVP award, so how can he have given up his spot to Rondo in the best point guard category?
If Rondo wants to join this elite group he’s going to need to continue these stats he’s put up in the playoffs to the next year. Nash was able to win two MVP awards putting up the same numbers, so if Rondo can do it over an 82 game season there will be a better argument for him. Until he can consistently put up those numbers he is yet to be the best point guard in the NBA.