With all of the point guard talent that populates the NBA, it's sometimes easy to forget how special of a player Boston's Rajon Rondo is, but after his performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers it's doubtful Rondo will be overlooked any longer.
If the NBA awarded MVP trophies for the Semifinal round, Rondo would win the award, and it wouldn't even be close. He was clearly the best player on the court, as he gave a clinic in the art of versatility.
Cleveland's LeBron James is universally recognized as the NBA's most versatile player, but in this series "His Highness" could have taken some lessons from Rondo, who impacted every aspect of the stat book.
Rondo averaged 20.7 points per game against Cleveland in the Celtics' series victory, and he added 11.8 assists and six rebounds to lead the upset of the regular season's best team.
Rondo will certainly garner much acclaim from his brilliant performance against the Cavaliers, and it is well-deserved, but Rondo has actually been playing at this level for more than two seasons.
Chris Paul, Steve Nash, Deron Williams, and Chauncey Billups are generally regarded as the top point guards in the NBA, and although Rondo's game may not contain as much flash as some of the names mentioned, he is just as effective.
In reality, Rondo's star began to rise when he was baptized in the fire of the 2008 NBA Finals, and emerged as a NBA champion, and one of the primary components of the Celtics' victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
2009 saw Boston lose any chance of repeating for the title due to an injury to Kevin Garnett, but it is also the year Rondo became the Celtics' best player, contrary to popular opinion.
Most would say Garnett, Paul Pierce, or Ray Allen would hold that designation, but it was Rondo's play in the postseason of 2009 that had the Celtics in the thick of contention, despite Garnett's injury.
It was Rondo who famously dueled with Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose in the first round that season, and it was his play which saved the Celtics when Pierce was ineffective, and Allen couldn't find his shot.
There are those who would say Rondo may not belong in the conversation as a top point guard because of some of his inherent flaws, such as his lack of a perimeter jumper.
Rondo only shot 33 percent from three point range against the Cavaliers, but he shot 54 percent from the field which proves he understands his limits, and tailors his game to fit his strengths.
Early in his career Rondo was perceived as a player who was sometimes reckless, but as he has matured in the league, a calm has been found, and it allows Rondo to take advantage of his considerable talents.
Rondo has nice vision in the open court, and his speed and strength allow him to get to the rim at will, and finish once he gets there, and although his offensive game is impressive, Rondo's defense is amazing.
Rondo was on the NBA's defensive first team, and the manner in which he rendered Cleveland's Mo Williams virtually useless is a good example of why he won the honor.
Williams was considered to be an essential part of the Cavaliers' title dreams, but Rondo turned the series into a nightmare as he hounded Williams on defense, and mentally took him out of his game.
Last season Williams couldn't find the range on his jumpers against Orlando, and this season he couldn't find the room to get them off against a bigger, quicker, and stronger Rondo.
The Eastern Conference Finals will provide a stern test for Rondo and his Celtics, because Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson may be just as quick as Rondo, and bases his game on penetration.
Boston will again play the role of underdog against the Magic, and Rondo's defense on Nelson could go a long way towards determining the outcome of the series.
If Rondo can muster another effort similar to his series against the Cavaliers, he will be one step closer to gaining the respect he truly deserves, and by all means has already achieved.
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