True point guards are hard to find. The job of a point guard used to be to create shots for his teammates and control the pace and tempo of his team’s offense. The position is now filled with players like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, who are scorers first and distributors second.
Rajon Rondo is as true a point guard as the NBA has. He cares first and foremost about making those around him better. He looks to create shots for others and worries little about how many points he scores as long as his team comes out with a win.
Why do so many fans and media members focus on Rondo’s weaknesses and not his strengths? Everyone knows that he’s a bad free-throw shooter and that he still lacks a consistent jump shot. All players have their weaknesses.
LeBron James comes up small in big moments. Dwyane Wade is a poor three-point shooter. Carmelo Anthony can’t play defense. These guys are still viewed as elite (and deservedly so), despite their flaws.
Rajon Rondo does things that no one else in the entire league is willing or able to do. His passing ability is second to none. He led the NBA in assists this season, and his ability to create easy, uncontested shots for his teammates is second to none.
Rondo consistently puts those around him in a position to be successful. He has great awareness of where his teammates are at all times, and appears to always be in complete control of the offense.
He does little things that almost all other point guards are either unable or resistant to do. He’ll scrap for every loose ball, and battle big men for rebounds. Rondo has seven career postseason triple doubles and has taken the torch from Jason Kidd as the best rebounding point guard.
Rondo’s defense is also a major strength. His long wingspan and superb quickness allow him to terrorize his opponents. He has also led the league in steals and is always among the league leaders in that category.
Although he is a pass-first point guard, Rondo is able to beat his man off the dribble whenever he so chooses. His quickness and ball handling skills allow him to beat any defender to the basket and attack the rim. Many times, Celtics coach Doc Rivers gets on Rondo’s case for not being aggressive enough because he knows that Rondo has the ability to get to the basket at will.
The only other true point guard in the NBA today who can compare to Rondo is Chris Paul. Like Rondo, Paul is an elite playmaker who gets the most out of his teammates. Paul is a better shooter and overall scorer, but Rondo’s knowledge of his teammates and ability to put them in easy scoring positions is slightly better.
Rondo deserves to be criticized for his inconsistent jump shoot and poor free-throw shooting. However, he does his job as a point guard as well as anyone in the NBA.
Dwight Howard isn’t ridiculed for being unable to shoot mid-range jump shots because that’s not his game. Like Howard, Rondo realizes what his does well and what his team needs from him. His role isn’t to score 20 points a game or knock down three pointers, and he doesn’t try to do things that are out of his limitations.
A true point guard is so rare in the NBA today. In terms of his ability to control the offense and make his teammates better, Rajon Rondo is as good as any. Rondo’s weaknesses are often highlighted, but he does the job of a point guard better than anyone the league has to offer.