Is Rajon Rondo Truly the Best Young Point Guard in the NBA?
In the second half of the game, legendary Celtics color man Tommy Heinsohn listed his Top Four Veteran Point Guards along with his Top Four Young Point Guards. Denver's Chauncey Billups appeared second on Tommy's veteran list while Rajon Rondo appeared first on the young guns list.
Rick Pitino famously gave up on Chauncey Billups as a rookie after the Celtics drafted him third overall in 1997. Billups, of course, went on to become an NBA Finals MVP with the Detroit Pistons, and obviously still remains one of the most elite players at the position in all of basketball.
Fortunately, the Celtics organization did not let Rajon Rondo get away, locking him up with a five-year contract earlier this year. On Wednesday night, Rondo proved once again that he is no doubt one of the most brilliant players at the point in the league as he outdueled Billups with 11 points, 11 rebounds, 15 assists, and four steals.
But is the legendary Tommy Heinsohn correct in his assertion that Rondo is the best young point guard in the league? Let's take a look.
Heinsohn's Top Four Young Point Guard List consisted of the following players:
1. Rajon Rondo BOS
2. Deron Williams UTA
3. Chris Paul NO
4. Derrick Rose CHI
Many would argue that Sacramento Kings rookie Tyreke Evans belongs in the discussion, and with the way he has performed this season, I have no choice but to include him as well. Evans and Rondo will coincidentally square off this Friday night at the Garden.
First off, of the five point men listed above, only one has a ring, and that would be Rondo. To be fair though, this should probably be put aside for now being that the other four never had the luxury of playing with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce.
As Tommy stated in Wednesday's contest, Rondo is the best defender out of all of them. Rondo leads the league in steals with 2.4 per game and defense wins championships.
In terms of sheer playmaking ability, it's somewhat of a toss up.
Chris Paul and Deron Williams are both averaging more assists per game than Rondo. Paul has 10.9 per game, and Williams has 10.3 while Rondo comes in slightly lower with 9.6.
Still, I don't think any point guard other than Steve Nash is more inventive with his passing than Rondo.
Celtics play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman called Rondo the best right-handed lefty passer he has ever seen. Plus, Rondo has an extremely unique and unpredictable move where he will, at times, fakes a pass one way, then end up passing the ball in that very direction, and it seems to work almost every time.
Tyreke Evans leads in the rebounding category with 5.2 per game. Rondo and Paul are almost identical with Rondo pulling down 4.4 a game and Paul standing at 4.5 on the year.
Shooting and scoring wise, Rondo is fifth on this list. Tyreke Evans, Chris Paul, and Derrick Rose are all averaging more than 20 points per game. Deron Williams comes in with a little over 18 a night while Rondo has 13.7.
The four others also have better free throw and three-point shooting percentages. Rondo's shooting has improved since last year, but he has a ways to go before he can pose the same kind of threat from the perimeter as these other ballplayers.
Still, if I had to choose one point guard to build a franchise around tomorrow, I am selecting Rajon Rondo. When taking everything into account, judging by the man's defensive skill, knack for theft, genius as a playmaker, and the overall way he competes in big games and in the playoffs, I have to choose Mr. Rondo.
Ironically, a freshman point guard now playing for Kentucky, just as Rondo once did, may very well surpass everyone at the point position when entering the league next season. Only time will tell.
For now, my money is on Rajon Rondo.
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