Know When To Hold Em
- Updated: May 21, 2011
If you Google “trade rumors Rajon Rondo” you won’t find much, but it if you listen to local analysts, and fans you can sense fear when they talk about the future of Rondo. By all accounts Rondo wasn’t himself after the Perkins trade, and didn’t exactly perform at the highest level for the second half of the season. Despite his poor performances he reminded everyone he is one tough dude from Louisville when he played with a severely dislocated elbow. The disastrous result of that series has everyone wondering, what’s next? When you look at the C’s roster you won’t see many viable trade pieces, and you don’t need an MIT degree to figure out that Rondo is the most valuable “chip” the Celts have. If I were in Vegas or at Foxwoods I would have no problem throwing a chip on the table, taking a sip of a beverage, and hoping for the best, but in this case Danny Ainge needs to put this chip in his pocket and walk away from the table. Rondo must stay, and here’s why.
Elite point guards and centers win championships, not wing players and back up centers. The combination of a good point guard and a good big is one of the most successful formulas of all time. Don’t get wrapped up in the position titles “point guard” and “center” because they are somewhat irrelevant. When using the term “point guard” I mean someone who can control the tempo of the game, has great instincts, is a capable distributor, and doesn’t get down on himself or the team. And when I use the term center I mean a big that can defend anyone, rebounds with passion, and can provide a legitimate scoring presence in the post. They both sound pretty good huh? Looking for an example? Bob Cousey and Bill Russell. That worked out pretty well. I won’t mention a few others because of their rival affiliation, but you get the point. The combination of great bigs, and great point guards is one of the most successful combinations in NBA history. Check the NBA championship list, and you will understand. So, is Rondo a great point? Does hit fit the criteria? Let’s take a look.
Is Rondo capable of controlling the tempo of the game? There is no question that he is, and showed it throughout the season. He is so capable of slowing or speeding the game that there were times where Doc demanded he change the tempo publicly. It’s true that Doc and Rondo weren’t always on the same page about what tempo would be most effective in certain situations, but Rondo had a firm grip on the pace in the majority of games he played. Don’t believe it? Check out the Celt’s ability to win games played in the 80’s and 90’s (not the decades, the points scored). Assessment: He is effective in transition and in the half court, and can control the tempo when he is on the floor.
Does Rondo have great instincts and is he a capable distributor? The answers are yes and yes. His instincts have been proven over and over when you check the stat sheet and he’s carded a triple double. He just has a feel for when to make plays for himself and when to make plays for others. This trait is one of the most valuable a point guard can have (see: Russell Westbrook and his issues). Rondo has also proven he is a capable distributor as he has played with three all-time greats, and rarely do you hear any of them complaining about touches. Granted some of that has to do with who those players are, but to accomplish a feat like that with three big time scores is commendable. Oh yeah, he finished second in the league in assists averaging 9.6 per game. Instincts? Check. Distributor? Check.
The last essential area is one where Rondo needs to improve, but my gambling instincts tell me “three out of four ain’t bad.” After the Perkins trade it was hard to tell whether Rondo was down on himself, or down on the teammate he didn’t have. This type of behavior isn’t acceptable, but it is understandable. There is no way that Rondo doesn’t grow from going through that experience, and there is no question he will be better in this department next year. Once Doc gets his voice back, he will be talking with Rondo regularly about this past season. This will ultimately help Rondo process what happened and learn from it. And he does need to learn from it, not just “move on” as I hear so many people say. Grade? Improvement needed, but imminent.
Conclusion? Rondo fits most of the criteria for a great point guard. Is he there yet? No, but the key word is yet. Besides, who are the other point guards available this year or next? J.J. Barera tops the list of this year’s unrestricted free agents (I wouldn’t mind him as a backup), and there is no way he is ready to lead a team. In 2012, Chris Paul has the ability to leave the “big easy”, but it is likely he is going to want enough money to cripple an organization. Baron Davis is the next best available, and we all would say “no thanks, your UCLA days are over.” Long story short Rondo is half the answer for the immediate future and the long term. So Danny please, don’t gamble with our last chip, you already doubled down on 15 by trading Perk and its likely you will get kicked off the table if you do it again.
Thanks for reading. Criticism, oppositional thoughts, and conversation are welcomed.