|Posted by paul on March 5, 2013 at 7:35 AM|
SI just ranked NBA point guards, and Rondo came in sixth. What's sad is that at one time I would have protested this vigorously, arguing that he should be much higher on the list. Now I would have to question it the other way. Shouldn't Curry be higher on that list, at least? Jrue Holiday? Maybe others?
Of course, SI's ranking started yet another round of Rondo discussion and Rondo bashing at Celtics Blog, but the sad truth is, I don't really feel like defending Rondo anymore. I'm not even sure he's a top ten pg at this point. A point guard has to be able to lead his team, and he has to be able to play defense. Rondo has shown that he can't do either of those things at this point in his career. His jump shooting was better this year, but for the most part, his game took a massive nosedive. The 'bottom line' is this: Rondo has always been a player who had to be assessed on the basis of much more than stats. This year, his play hurt his team. A lot. Avery Bradley has proven this. With Bradley leading, this team has risen to contender status. It has become the team we thought it would be this summer. With Rondo 'leading', we were mired as one of the worst teams in the league. Granted, we showed some signs of improviing, and admittedly, Rondo's teammates had a lot to do with the team's problems, but in the end, it was Rondo's responsibility to lead this team on both ends of the court. He didn't do it.
It's hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, Rondo was paired against Chris Paul in a climactic game, and pregame talk was about how this was a matchup between the two top contenders for the title of Best Point Guard. It's equally hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, Rondo was preparing to play in his first All Star Game in a starting role. Both of those developments showed a player on the verge of superstar status. Rondo was knocking on the gates of Basketball Heaven, but there was trouble in paradise. A teammate was taunting Rondo on Twitter. KG was all but calling Rondo out openly, suggesting that Lee and Bradley were the team's best guard combination. Paul Pierce and Jason Terry were throwing the ball away in key games. During one road trip, the team as a whole simply gave up. Then when Rondo went down with injury, one could almost hear the sigh of relief go up from the team. They started playing like they had gotten out of jail. Suddenly every player who had been inconsistent or bad started clicking, led by Pierce, who took to making clutch play after clutch play, instead of screwing up in key moments.
It's just so hard to talk about Rondo. At this point, I'm not even sure he's good enough to be a starting point guard in the NBA. Opposing point guards were abusing Rondo's 'defense', game after game after game. Even so, there's no one in the league I would trade Rondo for. No one. I think the talent that guy has is unworldly. If I were Danny, I'd have a long sit down with Rondo. I'd maybe go on a mini-retreat with him and Doc. I'd spend a few days together, somewhere reasonably isolated. I'd tell Rondo that I want to build the future of my team around him. I'd ask him for his ideas and I'd share mine with him. I'd talk basketball until we were all sick of it. But I'd also ask him what commitment, in return, he was willing to make to me, and it would have to start with less Red Bull over the summer, and more basketball.