Rajon Rondo: Is the Boston Celtics Point Guard Elite or on the Edge?

Ethan Norof@ethan_norofCorrespondent IAugust 10, 2011

BOSTON, MA - MAY 09: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics walks out as he is annouced in the starting line up before Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 9, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Rajon Rondo is often mentioned in the same conversation as Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.

But is there really an argument for him as the best point guard in the league?

Rondo has been far more than a pleasant surprise for the Boston Celtics since they drafted him 21st overall back in 2006. After a rookie campaign that was anything but overwhelming, the team thought that they'd have to continue their search to fill the void at point guard.

Averaging just 6.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists in his first season, Rondo looked like anything but a slam dunk to grab the reins of the offense and drive the team forward.

However, Rondo improved upon his efforts in his second season in almost every facet of his game. Besides taking a step back from his efficiency at the foul line, which was never good to begin with, Rondo's number experienced a spike across the board, managing 10.6 points, 4.2 boards and 5.6 assists per game.

It wasn't until the third season of Rondo's career that he really looked like he was going to be the real deal for the Celtics. Posting averages of 11.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.9 steals, Rondo's true breakout season was instrumental in Boston reclaiming the NBA title for the first time in more than 20 seasons.

Since that time, his defensive numbers have continued to improve and his assist totals have certainly grown, but he's continued to struggle mightily with his jump shot and he is absolutely abysmal to watch from the foul line.

Despite all of the increases in his assist output and his growth as a player, Rondo has also increased his turnover output to over three per game from 2009 to 2011, and that really hampers his overall efficiency as a point guard.

Some argue that his numbers have been inflated by playing alongside Hall of Fame-caliber players Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and while it's definitely helpful to have capable teammates, to write off Rondo's success as a direct result of that and that alone would be a grave mistake.

By comparison, here are the third-year statistical outputs from the four other point guards mentioned above:

Derrick Rose: 25.0 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 7.1 APG, 1.1 STL

Deron Williams: 18.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 10.5 APG, 1.0 STL

Chris Paul: 21.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 11.6 APG, 2.7 STL

Russell Westbrook: 21.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 8.2 APG, 1.9 STL

Clearly, Rondo still has some work to do.

It's currently a mistake to lump him in with the that group of players, if only because he's just so unlike any that he's been compared to heretofore.

Yes, his assist numbers were better than Rose's and equal to Westbrook's, but those two players are each score-first point guards, and that is simply not Rondo's game.

As long as he continues to progress in a similar fashion as he's shown in the past, Rondo will be a fantastic player and will border the line tangential to elite point guard status.

The words "superstar" and "elite" are often grouped together in the same sentence, but right now, Rondo doesn't deserve to be labeled either one.

Does he have a chance to achieve that status? Absolutely.

It's just going to take some more time and evolution from him in his game.


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