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Why NBA's No. 1 Point Guard Rajon Rondo Stays in Boston

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 11:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics signals as he sets up against Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on March 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 97-94.  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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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Marc RubinContributor IIIMarch 11, 2012

In assessing point guards one can examine a variety of performance statistics; certainly assists to turnover ratio is a frequently cited one.

Let me suggest the frequency a point guard gets to the rim as a more meaningful one. The premise is that those guys who get to the rim more often put more pressure on the defense, forcing opponents to collapse in an attempt to prevent penetration. That collapse opens up passing lanes and creates space for the point guard's teammate shooters.

A revelation about this "getting to the rim" measure is that the punishment absorbed in driving to the basket serves as a deterrent to a point guard aggressively attacking the rim year after year. The "wear and tear" of an NBA career as well as the variety of complex player contract situations has made this "getting to the rim" a frequently volatile measure.

Take the case of then Sacramento point guard Beno Udrih who produced an impressive 2007/8 season in which he got to the rim 3.7 times per game, 34 percent  of his 10.9 shots per game. He capitalized on that performance to sign a five year, $30 million contact. His subsequent numbers have dropped markedly and now in 2012 with Milwaukee he gets to the rim only one time per game.

Raymond Felton is another point guard who had a sterling period 2007-10 in which he averaged 4.2 rim shots per game, 35 percent of his shot selection. Since then his average rim shots/game has declined to 2.9, just 27 percent  of his shots. Perhaps the fall-off was attributable to Felton being in the last year of a contract and being very conscious of maintaining his health.

 

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat and and the Eastern Conference attempts a shot against Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Western Conferenceduring the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center on Februa
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

 

 

Mo Williams, Jose Calderon, Baron Davis, Stephen Curry, even a star like Chris Paul and legends such as Steve Nash and Jason Kidd have reduced their forays to the basket in recent times.

Consistency "getting to the rim" over an extended four years or more period is what makes Russell Westbrook , Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, and Tony Parker   so distinctive. 

Point Guard  Rim shots/game 2012  % Total Shots

*******************************************************************

                 FIRST TIER POINT GUARDS

Westbrook                 6.5               34% of 19.1

Rose                         6.1               34% of 17.7

Rondo                       6.0               49% of 12.2

John Wall                  5.9               42% of 14.1

Kyrie Irving                5.7               40% of 14.3 

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs and the Western Conference drives for a shot attempt against Roy Hibbert #55 of the Indiana Pacers and the Eastern Conference during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center on Febr
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Tony Parker              4.6               29% of 15.9

 

Devin Harris 2011      4.5              38% of 11.8

Brandon Jenkins       4.2              25% of 16.9 

Deron Williams         3.9              22% of 17.7

Mike Conley             3.8              33% of 11.6

Kyle Lowrie              3.5              29% of 12.1

                          SECOND TIER

Brandon Knight        3.3               28% of 11.7

Darren Collison        3.1               33% of  9.5

Jrue Holliday           3.1               24% of 13.0

Andre Miller             3.0              32% of 9.3

Chris Paul               3.0              21% of 14.9

Jameer Nelson        2.7              30% of 9.1

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 05: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls passes the ball under pressure from Darren Collison #2 and David West #21 of the Indiana Pacers at the United Center on March 5, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 92-72. N
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Ramon Sessions     2.7              31% of 8.6  

Ricky Rubio            2.5              26% of 9.5

 

 

 

Not only have Westbrook, Rose, Rondo, and Parker been consistent in getting to the basket for years, they have also been efficient on their drives, scoring on average over 60 percent of the " at the rim" times. Westbrook in particular has improved from 47percent, to 53 percent, to 60 percent, to this year's 64 percent over the past several seasons.

Rondo is No. 1 in my rankings because such a high percentage of his shots, nearly 50 percent, are at the rim. He is not taking many perimeter shots, instead leaving that to teammates who are better shooters. Moreover Rondo has an NBA championship on his resume.  Rondo's history of not taking many outside shots makes him an attractive play-maker to prospective free agents who General Manager Danny Ainge will court to rebuild the Celtics; consequently, Rondo  would not be traded for any other point guard in the NBA.    

Two final points to ponder:

1. Will promising stars John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Brandon Knight continue to attack the basket like they have early in their careers?

2. Will playoff contenders like the Timberwolves missing Ricky Rubio, and the Lakers dissatisfied with a tandem of Derek Fisher and Steve Blake turn to the following appealing and likely trade available possibilities: Conley, Augustin, Miller and Sessions

 

Will the non-penetrator point guards such as Kirk Hinrich, Jarrett Jack, and Earl Watson go without suitors?

 

This " at the rim" analysis approach suggested to me two years ago that Kyle Lowrie would blossom as a point guard, and I see the same potential for Conley, Augustin and Sessions to develop far beyond their current standings.

 

 

 

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