Just another day at the office. Last night in a dominating win over the Pistons, Rajon Rondo showcased once again why he is one of the best point guards in the league as he dished out 17 assists.
And he didn’t even have big Shaquille O’Neal to pass the ball to.
Including his career-best 24 assists against the Knicks a game earlier, Rondo’s assist total stands at 67 through four games, which is the most by one player through four games in NBA history. John Stockton and Magic Johnson both had 65 through four games.
So the question has to be asked: Is Rondo the best point guard in the NBA? If not, where does he rank?
Through Rondo’s first four years in the league he hasn’t averaged double figures in assists. One could say he basically reached that plateau last year when he averaged 9.8 assists.
Yet, as each year progresses, his game seems to improve. He is finding more ways to get his teammates involved. He sees the floor extraordinarily well. His game grew leaps and bounds last year as he led the Celtics into the Finals. The only thing that needs to be improved is the glaring need for a decent jump shot.
Rondo has never been a good jump shooter, but his field goal percentage hovers around the 50 percent range due to his penetrating ability. His free throw percentage has been in the low to mid 60 percent range throughout his career, which is by far the worst percentage for a point guard. Despite this obvious flaw, his leadership and passing skills have got people declaring the Celtics now have a Big Four.
Rondo’s bread and butter is penetrating and finding teammates—that’s no secret by now. Defenders have always given him three feet of separation because they know what he’s all about.
But it doesn’t seem to matter. A big man comes to set a pick on his man, Rondo makes his move, and before you know it he’s at the basket in scoring position, or hitting Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett for an open jumper. When watching the Celtics, how many times have you seen Rondo do that?
Rondo is probably the best at playing within himself. He doesn’t take shots that are low percentage and he looks for situations where his teammates will be in the best position to score.
Suffice it to say that his court vision rivals that of Steve Nash.
On top of his court vision on the offensive end, Rondo does it on the defensive end as well. Rondo was in the discussion for defensive player of the year last season where he averaged 2.3 steals per game. He also was on the first team All-Defensive squad. His long arms and anticipation disrupt the passing lanes, keeping the offense on its toes. His stealing ability rivals that of Chris Paul, who averaged 2.1 steals a game last year and 2.8 in the previous year.
He’s got the classic distributing point guard mentality on offense and he can disrupt passing lanes on defense. So where does he rank among the NBA’s elite point guards? Does the lack of a jump shot hurt his status? Does the fact that he is playing with three, and now four (with Shaq) future Hall of Famers become a factor?
Going back to the point made earlier, Rondo plays within himself to find others. He does that as well as any point guard in the league. I think he is one of the top three point guards in the NBA. His significance to the Celtics can not be undermined. It has been under-appreciated though.
Look for Rondo to be one of the key reasons for the success of the Celtics once again this season.
Along with Paul, Rondo is the quintessential model for what a point guard should be. It’s not bad when you get mentioned in the same breath with some of the best in the game like Stockton and Magic either.
And just for kicks, here’s my list of the Top 10 point guards in the league.
1. Chris Paul
2. Deron Williams
3. Rajon Rondo
4. Derrick Rose
5. Russell Westbrook
6. Tony Parker
7. Steve Nash
8. John Wall
9. Jason Kidd
10. Aaron Brooks
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