Rajon Rondo: Does Any NBA Team Rely on Its Star More Than the Boston Celtics?

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2012

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 07:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics warms up against the Miami Heat in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 7, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

It's rare to hear Rajon Rondo mentioned in the same category as LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Chris Paul.

Despite his first-rate contributions to the Boston Celtics on both ends of the floor, the 26-year-old still flies under the radar more often than not. Sure, average fans know who he is. They just don't know what he does.

That's begun to turn around to at least to some degree. Rondo finished eighth in MVP voting last season, indicating he's at least drawn some attention despite the bigger names drawing still far more.

Of course, if the MVP award actually gauged how valuable a player he was to his team, you can rest assured Rondo would finish much higher in the voting. In fact, there's an argument to be made that he should finish first.

If this guy had a consistent perimeter shot, that argument would be pretty airtight.

Unfortunately, there remain some weaknesses in Rondo's game—ones that extend beyond his ineffectiveness beyond the arc. For one thing, the point guard is so good when the ball is in his hands that more organic ball movement is sometimes stifled.

But, here's the thing.

Even LeBron James has weaknesses. Kobe Bryant has them too. Getting hung up on the things Rondo does imperfectly obscures the fact that he does most things incredibly well, including the really important things.

And no, we're not just talking about his passing ability. Sure, he led the league with 11.7 assists per game. You should be able to deduce from that all that you need to. This guy knows how to set people up.

He's also a leader, though, even for his more veteran counterparts.

Kevin Garnett acknowledged as much when the Celtics were attempting to right the ship this January (via ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg):

"Rajon's amazing, period [...]. We talk about big things are coming -- big things are here. Rajon's keeping us alive every night. We just have to make sure we follow his lead and follow his effort, and we're going to turn this thing around."

It's no coincidence that head coach Doc Rivers is defending his young star amidst the sense he was a primary culprit in Ray Allen's decision to bolt for the Miami Heat. Rondo's intensity and focus often put his teammates to shame until February and March rolled around.

As for Allen's sentiments, let's just say the old man was clearly looking for a way to justify his thinly veiled pursuit of a ring. The guy is a mercenary, pure and simple.

He'd rather be remembered as a faithful Celtic who was somehow wronged.


Here's a fun mental exercise. Imagine just how many open three-pointers would have come Allen's way with another point guard running the show. There are at best a small handful of passers who might match Rondo's proficiency in this regard. Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Deron Williams come to mind.

Perhaps LeBron James will get the job done as well.

Who else you got?

Allen wasn't the only one benefiting from Rondo's frequently flawless execution. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and even Avery Bradley were spot-up shooting machines. It's a good thing, too, because none of them are especially adept at creating their own offense.

LeBron isn't his team's only playmaker, nor even its only scorer. Kevin Durant plays alongside two incredibly dynamic, well-around all-stars. 

The San Antonio Spurs are as deep a team as you'll find. The Los Angeles Lakers now have the best starting lineup in the league.

Who else carries the load Rajon Rondo calls his own? Maybe Ray Allen doesn't like it, but Celtics fans surely should.