When a news network is as big as ESPN is, the news they make becomes sport news. Placing Rajon Rondo as their highest ranked player in their NBA player rankings among the Boston Celtics was the final stamp that the point guard is the best player on this team.
The truth is that he has been their best player for quite a few years now, despite not producing the scoring numbers that Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett usually do. First of all it’s the passing, which he is probably the best in the NBA at right now, averaging 11.7 assists per game last season, along with 11.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
And then it comes down to it – those 11.9 points. These Boston Celtics, ready to follow the lead of Rondo, who some say is the best point guard in the NBA (mostly Celtics fans) while the rankings gave that nod to Paul, while the injured Derrick Rose and healthy Deron Williams were also ranked higher than him. I personally don’t feel that differently about each of them when their at their best, but Rose is out of the picture at the moment, and the difference isn’t that great among the other three anyway.
Doc Rivers wants Rondo to take that next step when it comes to responsibility not just as the major ball handler but as the man who finishes attacks. To become more selfish; to look to score and become a threat with his outside shooting instead of looking for ways to find Pierce and Kevin Garnett and whoever it is that’s going to fill in Ray Allen’s declining outside shooting ability.
And while I trust Rondo to be the best point guard he can be, I’m not sure he’s going to be enough to carry these Celtics, who aren’t better than they were last year, into that title that management over there thinks this team is worth. Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox, Brandon Bass, Jason Terry. Are those the players to carry them into their third NBA Finals since 2008? To give the Celtics the edge over the Miami Heat, who were a better team than the 7 game conference finals suggest?
There’s something about Rondo that’s hard to like. Maybe it’s just the media playing it out like that, but maybe there’s actually something there, about his behavior, about him looking distant. The whole Ray Allen thing didn’t help, although Rondo claims it was blown way out of proportion. He’s probably right, because this isn’t the first or last time anyone argues with their teammate and co-worker. Remember the Durant – Westbrook thing last year?
All the talk right now is about the Celtics being ready to take Rondo’s lead. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, they will follow. The problem is that even at Rondo’s best, it might not be enough. They need him at more than his best, to be something he probably isn’t. Someone who makes mid range and long two point shots. Someone who becomes a reliable free throw shooter, being their best option in the penetration game. I’m not sure Rondo is that guy, and that makes the Celtics far off from being a title contender.