Josh's Journal: 2010 NBA Playoffs
While I primarily focus my featured columnist efforts towards the Los Angeles Lakers, I also have many thoughts and observations on other sports and levels of play. Accordingly, I will periodically post a "Josh's Journal" slideshow to convey these thoughts, which are not worthy of an entire column because of their succinct and sporadic nature.
As we near the 2010 NBA Finals, this "Josh's Journal" slideshow will feature the NBA playoffs, including my answers to the following questions: (1) Do gods really exist? (2) Where does Rajon Rondo rank among current NBA point guards? and (3) Is Rajon Rondo the next Magic Johnson?
Do gods really exist?
For years I have been a profound believer in tangibles - you know, things you can put your finger on, so to speak - and thus have never quite grasped the idea of a god, even though I was Bar Mitzvah-ed and had the Lakers Girls perform and sign autographs at my party. While I do believe there is a higher power - some people call it "God" or "Allah," among other variations, but I call it "Kobe" (just kidding) - I do not hinge my faith and day-to-day decision-making on this so-called higher power. Instead, I believe passion, hard work, perseverance, and self-confidence are the keys to the car of success. Accordingly, I believe everything else will take care of itself if the aforementioned foursome is implemented to the best of one's ability, whether or not a higher power exists.
But after the Boston Celtics moved to within one win of advancing to the Finals for the second time in three seasons, and now that the Lakers are two impending victories away from a must-see sequel to the 2008 Finals, my belief in a god - or in this case, basketball gods - just went through the roof.
At the start of this postseason, there were six feasible Finals scenarios (in order of probability): (1) Lakers-Cavs, (2) Lakers-Magic, (3) Mavs-Cavs, (4) Mavs-Magic, (5) Suns-Cavs, (6) Suns-Magic.
As much as he may have yearned for it, renewing the Lakers-Celtic rivalry was not even a twinkle in David Stern's eye, largely because Boston had resembled an old, past-its-prime team that was more inconsistent than a politician's thesis during most of the regular season. To add stale bread to a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, the C's ended the regular season losers of seven of their last 10 games and reached an all-time low to the point that Doc Rivers wondered out loud about what he was going to get from the team game in and game out.
Entering postseason play, the question wasn't: "How far will they go?"
It was: "How long will they last?"
But sure enough, the greatest engagement in NBA history is on the horizon.
Without making an official prediction in terms of how long the series will go, Mr. Stern will quickly forget how trite the first three rounds proved to be once this colossal clash commences.
Where does Rajon Rondo rank among current NBA point guards?
Before the 2009-10 season began, I labeled Rajon Rondo as "an up-and-coming NBA point guard" because (a) he embodies the pass-first, shoot-second mentality - you know, the lost art of running the point - and (b) he is capable of posting a triple-double in any given game.
And yes, I am well aware that Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Jameer Nelson, Derrick Rose, Aaron Brooks, Tony Parker, and inevitably John Wall will play professional basketball for at least the next decade or so.
Regardless, here is my list of the top five current NBA point guards (in order of the greatest): (1) Deron Williams, (2) Chris Paul, (3) Rajon Rondo, (4) Steve Nash, and (5) Tony Parker.
In the next few years, Rose will presumably replace Nash somewhere on that list and Nelson might also make his way onto it (with all due respect to the Frenchman, expectantly in place of Parker).
However, the real question is: What number will Rondo rise (or fall) to in due time?
Right now he lacks a reliable jump shot from 15 feet and out. And while most players would struggle to hide that apparent hindrance, Rondo has not lost a single beat, even when defenders all but leave him wide open in favor of help defense.
If Rondo can become a dependable threat on the perimeter - much like Williams, Paul, Nash, Parker, and Brooks have become - there is no question he will become the most pernicious playmaker at his position.
And here is why: If you take away the ample shooting abilities from Williams, Paul, Nash, Parker, and Brooks, they would all regress into predominantly one-dimensional players, which would impair their potency to make plays.
Rondo's jumper is more or less a joke, yet he has still excelled as one of the premiere point guards in the NBA.
Is Rajon Rondo the next Magic Johnson?
One thing us sports fans love to do is compare current players to those of the past.
Is LeBron James the next Michael Jordan? Up until he finally won a Super Bowl ring, was Peyton Manning the next Dan Marino. Before we learned of his self-proclaimed unknowing use performance-enhancing drugs, was Barry Bonds the next Willie Mays?
So while we are on that road, I pose the question: Is Rajon Rondo the next Magic Johnson?
In terms of height and physique, certainly not. But what Rondo lacks in inches and pounds, he definitely makes up for in speed and quickness.
But how about the way Rondo knifes into the teeth of the defense, or his borderline show-boat passing style, or even his inability to consistently drill the open jump shot?
Rondo still has a long ways to go before he can even be mentioned in the same breath as the Magic Man. After all, he has yet to lead his team to an NBA championship, no less five. He is also three down in the MVP department and 11 away from matching Magic's All-Star selection total.
But if Rondo's recent emergence as one of the great point guards in today's NBA is any indication (remember, he is 24 years young) of his potential to become one of the all-time great point guards, we very well could be witnessing Magic 2.0 in the making.