First of all, I have to give credit where credit is due, I was inspired to write this piece after reading Jesse Dorsey's excellent article about what would happen if Kobe Bryant was on the current Cleveland Cavaliers team.
In the lengthy debate over just who is the NBA's best point guard, Rose and Rondo are two players who are sure to be up for consideration. However, while they are both dominant players, their styles of play are vastly different.
Rose is a shooting point guard, he specializes in taking defenders off the dribble and can drive to the basket better than anyone in the league. What's been really impressive about watching him play has been his improved jump shooting—he's much stronger from the field and worked hard to become a threat from the three-point arc as well. Rose is the anchor of the Bulls offensively and has proved himself as an energetic and active defender.
Rondo is the opposite, the league leader in assists per game, he is a facilitator first and foremost. Though he does have the ability to penetrate and sink shots that's not his strength. He's established himself as a leader, and to do that when your starting lineup includes three future hall-of-famers is a feat all by itself.
So the question is: How would each player fare as a part of the other's team?
I'm not trying to say one would be better than the other, and certainly not trying to suggest this trade would ever happen, merely wondering what the switch would be like for the teams.
Who would perform better on the other player's team?
Carlos Boozer would thrive in the pick-and-roll game with Rondo, considering how well he did working with Deron Williams during his tenure with the Jazz. While he has found chemistry with Rose, Derrick's not the kind of playmaker a Williams or Rondo is. However, the Bulls would miss some key elements of Rose's game, while they're a solid shooting team, Rose is the only player on the current roster capable of taking over a game.
However, Rondo's performance on Sunday against the Magic serves as proof that he is more than just the initiator of a play. Going 9-for-15 from the field and hitting 7 of his 9 free-throws, despite having a surprisingly poor percentage from the stripe, Rondo stunned the Orlando defense and went for a season high 26 points. Though he would probably remain a distributor first and foremost, but with the dismal shooting guard situation in Chicago he would bear the brunt of the backcourt. The transition from Doc Rivers to Tom Thibodeau likely wouldn't be too difficult for Rondo, as he is familiar with Thibodeau's style since he spent three years as a Celtics assistant coach under Rivers.
Rose would likely have some acclimation issues, he wouldn't quite fit into Doc Rivers' team-driven system right away. Not to say Rose is a selfish player, but when you've played your whole career with the ball almost always in your hands, it would be understandable that it would take some time to find your place.
That being said, Rose would prosper with a two-guard like Ray Allen who can actually play on Derrick's level. Also, Thibodeau's and Rivers' systems are both predicated upon defense, and while there are a few significant differences in their styles, this would make the transition easier. He'd likely have to become more active on the boards though, as, with the exception of Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics lack the rebounding dominance of the Bulls. Rose's dime-dropping abilities would likely increase a great deal if he was dishing to four future hall-of-famers.
What do you think? Would D-Rose or Rondo be better if they took their talents to each other's respective cities?