On one hand, the team has an experienced leader who knows what it takes to win an NBA title. On the other hand, the Celtics have a young scorer who has waited patiently for his chance to shine.
It leaves the team with just one question: Who is the better player to build around?
Fresh off its worst season since 2007, Boston has some work to do. To make matters worse, the team lost head coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers while shipping off veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets over the summer.
Not only did it officially close the door on the Big Three era, but it also left the Celtics desperately searching for a new identity.
With a new head coach, several new faces and overall lower expectations, now is a better time than ever for the team to discover what it is. Having top-NBA talent like Rondo and Green certainly helps make that process a little easier.
However, if Boston wants to build itself back up, it’s imperative the team focuses on one player to work around.
The Case for Rondo
It’s tough to find a better point guard in the NBA than Rondo. In fact, he’s arguably the best the league has to offer.
Just take a look at what the 27-year-old has accomplished as of late.
During 38 contests in 2012-13, Rondo averaged 13.7 points, 11.1 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals over 37.4 minutes per game. Furthermore, over the last two seasons, the seven-year veteran has led the league in assists and rebounds (among point guards). In fact, he’s been ranked in the top 10 in both categories every season since 2008-09.
It’s hard to match the versatility Rondo brings to the court.
Remember, this is the same guy who missed more games than he played in last year, yet still managed to lead the league in triple-doubles (five). In comparison, LeBron James came in second with just four in 76 contests.
Sure, the Celtics played better without Rondo initially. However, we all saw how the team completely bottomed out near the tail end of the regular season and throughout the playoffs.
Boston looked lost without a floor general, going through one failed audition after another for the point guard spot. Eventually, the team had to rely on Pierce—the starting small forward—to handle the distribution duties.
Rondo is an NBA champion, a four-time All-Star and one of the biggest draws in the NBA.
What more do the Celtics need to build around?
The Case for Green
Green was easily a bright spot in a rather dark time for Boston.
After a slow start, the 27-year-old took off for the remainder of the year, averaging 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over 35.1 minutes per game during the team’s final 16 regular-season contests. He also connected on 50.9 percent of his attempts from the field and 51 percent from three-point range.
It was a stretch that saw Green explode for performances of 43 and 34 points.
However, his play during the postseason is what stamped his arrival as a superstar.
In six playoff contests against the New York Knicks, Green averaged 20.3 points and 5.3 rebounds over 43.2 minutes per game. He also shot 43.5 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent from beyond the arc.
But what stood out the most during this run was the confidence that Green displayed with the ball in his hand.
The hesitation and bad decision-making that plagued him during the first half of the season was nowhere to be seen. Instead, Green demanded the ball in pressure situations, taking any shot or lane to the hoop that’s given to him. If nothing was there, he had no problem finding a teammate with a better shot.
One can only imagine how dangerous Green becomes now that the small forward position is all his for the taking.
Summing It All Up
As summarized above, both Rondo and Green offer the Celtics a lot. But only one is a sure bet to bring results if the team builds around him.
That player is Rondo.
Sure, he’s still rehabbing from a torn ACL and isn’t expected to return to the court until December. Not to mention, Green will be in a starting role, coming off the best stretch of his career.
However, Rondo’s track record of performing at a high level year-in and year-out trumps Green’s 22-game stretch.
According to Rivers, Rondo is working the hardest he ever has in his life to return to the floor. That kind of determination and drive can’t be overlooked.
While it’s completely possible that Green will prove his success was no fluke, until then, Boston’s best bet to draw in talent comes from building around Rondo.
No doubt about it.