Rajon Rondo, Most Overrated Player in the NBA, Will Never Become Legendary PG

Joseph Fafinski@Joseph FafinskiCorrespondent IAugust 22, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics looks on against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics looks on against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

As a kid from suburban Minneapolis, I am usually very level-headed. I was born and raised in a Roman Catholic family, and was taught by my parents to keep my life (and my temper, which once lost me my first set of golf clubs in a lake back in '00) under control at all times.

Usually I'm pretty good at holding it all in.

That is, until last night. I nearly went into Hannibal Lecter mode when I gazed upon an article on this very site that casually stated Rajon Rondo "could be the best point guard ever." It was a 289-word essay that, while well-written, had no factual basis in its' entirety.

It was a two-minute chuckle fest on my end, as I thought to myself, "Wow, people actually think Rondo can become better than Magic Johnson, better than John Stockton, better than Isaiah Thomas, better than Bob Cousy, better than Oscar Robertson, better than Steve Nash."

Saying Rajon Rondo could be the best point guard of all-time is similar to proclaiming Anne Hathaway to being the most attractive celebrity ever. Sure, she's not shabby on the eyes and you like her game, but would you take her in crunch time over Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba, or Jennifer Aniston?

It was sort of a mouth-open shock for me because I thought all knowledgeable NBA fans would consider him fifth or sixth-best point guard in the league right now.

I think it goes without saying that any normal, level-headed, fair-IQ'd NBA fan (all biases and ages aside) would take Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams before even considering Rondo. I personally would take Russell Westbrook and Steve Nash additionally, but that's just me.

The article also states that the former Kentucky Wildcat "is the best floor general, bar none." Perhaps they haven't heard of Steve Nash? Or Chris Paul doesn't ring a bell?

And then there's defense, where every Rondo lover seems to fuss anytime anyone mentions Derrick Rose as the better in that department. In all reality, the facts are there-- Rose is better. As for overall game, Rondo might be the better distributor, but really where else does his game trump that of D-Rose's?

Then there's the everlasting passing debate. 

Rondo's posse continue to proclaim that not only are his assist numbers inflated (which, let's be reasonable, they are), but he is the passer in the league.

Before I fall out of my chair laughing, let me enlighten you, ignorant Bostonians. If Luke Ridnour, mediocre point guard of my Minnesota T'Wolves, played for the Celtics, he'd average at least 10 assists. And there's no bias there whatsoever. Rondo and his fans are hidden behind the fact that he's been tossed into the perfect situation. How would Rondo fare for, say, the Heat? Certainly not as well as his Boston career has been. Or at least how everyone has made it out to be.

But back to the Rondo debate. I'm sorry, folks, but there's no way his numbers aren't influenced. It's as simple as that. When you have the best three-point shooter of all-time in Ray Allen, a great set shooter in Paul Pierce, and a still capable Kevin Garnett in the post, how can you not average 11.2 assists (which is the number he posted this past season)?

The numbers are there to prove the stats to be inflated, too. 93 percent of Garnett's 16-foot and further jumpers were assisted last season, and you can bet your rear that the majority were from Rondo. Surely Ray Allen's 44 percent clip from downtown this past season had nothing to do with Rondo's high-assist number either?

Conversely, Steve Nash, who plays with a washed-up and oft-injured Grant Hill and a beyond washed-up Vince Carter, averaged 11.4 assists and led the league. That's an astounding figure, make no mistake. Rondo wouldn't do any better than eight with that sort of cast. Heck, he proved that previous statement true when he only dished out 3.8 assists per game back in '06-07 with a cast that was still better than Nash's '10-11 Suns.

It's even funnier to consider Rondo better than Nash when you see that the Canadian was better in every statistical category except rebounds and steals. Then it gets hilarious when you realize that Rondo played four extra minutes per game than Nash!

Chris Paul's worst season is better than Rondo's best statistically. There, I said it. Paul has displayed leadership skills that are far superior, and that's a huge understatement. Let's see Rondo take a team whose second-best player is David West to the playoffs. There's no realistic chance.

Such a heinous claim could not even be backed up by mentioning how he could be better than all the current point guards in the association, so why should it be any different with the legends?

John Stockton, who by most accounts is the third or fourth best point guard in NBA history, was a better defender than Rondo probably ever will be. Granted, he was cheap with his hands according to many former NBA players, but what's wrong with having such a will to win?

I'm getting off topic, but this should prove to you how passionate I am on the subject. It just makes sense.

Anyways, let's recap what happened between 2006 and the summer of '08 for the Boston Celtics and Rajon Rondo.

  1. The C's went 24-58 and (at the time, they only had one star in Pierce, and a potential in Big Al Jefferson) finished last in the 
  2. In the summer of '07, the Celtics add two top-15 (at the time) players in Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. 
  3. Rondo's numbers improve in nearly every statistical category (except, interestingly enough, three-point shooting), and Boston wins the NBA Finals over the Lakers.
  4. Rondo gets all the glory in Game 6 (with a solid performance, anyone would admit) despite Kevin Garnett's gutsy 28-14-4 performance.
  5. Rondo gets worse at shooting and everyone declares him better.

It's not insane to say Rondo is a good point guard, but the best in history? Give me a break. Try to find a point guard whom I consider better (there are well over 25 at this point in time), put them head-to-head and it's not even a question.

Better than Magic Johnson? I don't care how die hard of a Boston fan you are, that's just plain stupidity to think that Rajon Rondo, a guy who can't even create his own shot, can become a better player than Magic. 

Johnson was superior in every facet of the point guard game other than defense, and it's not like he was a slouch there either. The 6'9 Johnson's leadership, shooting, passing, and clutchness skills will forever shine over the 6'1 Rondo. Oh, and not to mention that Johnson has four more rings than the Boston guard.

Without a shot, and without a chance to personally lead a team, Rondo will never be considered a top-tier point guard. I'm fairly certain he won't even touch Bob Cousy as the Boston Celtics' best point of all-time. Just to think another Boston fan would diminish Cooz's accolades makes me sad for him. 

You may now lower your pitchforks, Boston fans. Rajon Rondo is overrated, there's no question about it. This may leave you with your heads scratching, but it's really a statement you can't deny.

Bill Simmons, the ultra-talented (and my favorite) sportswriter, states in his book that Rondo, most likely, would attain one of the final four positions to round out the top 100 in his 2015 installment. Where would I put him? Right now he's below the likes of Fat Lever, Norm Nixon, Chauncey Billups, and so many more.

Mr. Simmons, I usually love your work, but your love of Rondo makes me lose a little respect for you. I really urge you to reconsider and revoke that statement. It's just plain stupidity. We might as well put Steve Kerr on the top 100 while we're at it.

If the game's on the line, there's no way you want Rondo with the ball. He's the worst shooting point guard I've ever seen outside of Eric Snow, and now we want to declare him possibly the best ever? That statement itself is funnier than anything George Lopez has ever said.

He's anything but a closer. Quite frankly, I'll take Law and Order's Jack McCoy, and you can have Rondo with your basketball game. What exactly does he do any differently than, say, Delonte West?

You know what's funny too? I haven't even mentioned free throws yet! If the Celtics have to drain freebies to win a game, there's no way on God's green earth that they're giving the ball to Rondo. After all, he drained less than 57 percent from the stripe last season. Even his 62 percent clip for his career is uglier than Tim Robbins' short appearance in Anchorman. How do you explain that as the "best ever", Rondo lovers?

Maybe I'm alone thinking he's the most overrated player in the association right now, maybe I'm not. After extensive research, it's hard to decipher what the big difference is over Rondo and a guy like Kirk Hinrich is. Hinrich, after all, isn't completely inept when shooting a basketball from beyond 10 feet, but he doesn't put up assist numbers that the 25-year-old Rondo does. So really, what is? They're both terrific defenders and floor generals.

How would've the '06-07 season end up for the Bulls if they had Rondo instead of the Iowa native? Hinrich was the Bulls' second best player (to Ben Gordon) when he led them to the second round before they were upended by the defensively-minded Detroit Pistons, a club that had a roster full of stalwarts alike. Really, there's not much of a difference between the two, but the media and basketball nation try to sway our opinion one way. It just makes no sense.

Here's an idea I am patenting right now-- the Rondo Effect. This idea revolves around one player who is considered the "leader" (when in actuality he isn't close to the best) but his actual affect is overshadowed by success, and therefore he becomes quietly overrated but no one dares to say it. Other examples include Patrick Ewing from '92 to '95 and Jenny from Forrest Gump. 

Honestly though, how are we as diehard basketball fans supposed to rate Rondo? Mike D'Antoni, an offensive wizard, is a guy who isn't exactly a Rondo fanboy either. He said last postseason that "I'd like to see him on Minnesota and see how well he does.” As a Wolves fan, I wouldn't know what to expect. I'd go ahead and guess he'd be a 12 and eight guy at best, but really how is that much better than the average point guard? Not to mention that he's the one guard in the NBA that I would rather have myself huck up a three (if you haven't read my writing before, I've described my game to that of a homeless man's Carmelo Anthony-- good for shots every once in a while, but couldn't guard a 6'1 Joel Anthony if my life depended on it) than Rondo. And I'm not being facetious in uttering said statement.

Unless he improves his shot and stops relying so much on his teammates, he can't even be considered close to the best ever.

The solutions are there. It's not like he can't be great historically; he just isn't there yet.

And he won't ever be up there with the legends.

Follow Joseph on Twitter @JosephFafinski.


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