Remember when I said my list was going to get controversial? Well, this is where it starts. To me, Rajon Rondo is the second best point guard in the NBA. I know a lot of people have problems with that. They’ll inhibit images of his jump shot, speak to the advanced metrics that don’t play in his favor, and talk about how poor Boston’s offense has been this season, and last for that matter.
I don’t know if there’s a point guard who has a better grasp of his team’s offense. There’s been a lot of dismissal on the public’s part with what Rondo has to do to attempt to keep Boston afloat this season. He’s the only guy who can create a good look for someone else on that team. Paul Pierce hasn’t been the Paul Pierce of old. Per Synergy Sports 19.4% of his looks come off of screens and 16/1% come off of spot-up attempts. Both of those being situations that he hasn’t created for himself.
Rondo runs the offense and is constantly trying to get other people looks instead of creating for himself. That’s when his unselfishness plagues him and costs his team sometimes.
With that being said, lets get into why this ranking is justified for him.
Rondo’s role in making the Celtics go is a pivotal one. He plays 37.6 minutes per game for Boston without a backup point guard on the roster. When he’s in he’s attacking the game through all statistical categories. Right now he’s averaging 13 points per game, with 11.6 assists per game and 5 rebounds. Those are stellar numbers, not to mention his 1.9 steals per game, to boot.
This is the worst Celtics team that he’s been on in years and its not even close. The numbers that he’s putting up right now would give him MVP consideration if the Celtics were above the .500 mark. He’s leading the lead in assist percentage at 50.9%. That means that he’s assisting on half of Boston’s points scored. He’s doing that with a usage rate of only 20%, though. That’s remarkable, if you ask me.
There will always understandably be questions about Rajon’s jumper. He’s never been a shooter, especially from beyond the arch. However, this season he’s shooting 51% from 16-23 feet out and he’s taking 3.3 of those shots per game. He’s never been a volume shooter, but he always takes the right shots and knows his limitations. He works through those, and that’s what good point guards do.
Along with that comes his amazing passing ability. Rondo leads the league in assists by almost two assists per game. He’s always been a willing passer, sometimes to his detriment–which we will get into later. His vision and his ability to get the ball into places is so unique because of his unorthodox style of play. Even without taking jump shots he manages to destroy defensive coverage.
Rondo is like a coach on the floor. He’s constantly looking for mismatches and places to fit the ball into for an easy score. He’ll never pass up the opportunity to hit an open teammate for an easy look.
Because Rondo isn’t the best jump shooter, he sometimes gets a little too passive even when he’s wide open. That forces a lot of turnovers on his part and its especially been that way this season. That’s always been a problem with him and it may continue to be one.
When Rondo is aggressive is when he’s at his best. When he’s looking for his shot and getting into the paint, that creates openings for his teammates. Other times he’s looking to dish the ball in the flow of the offense and not by his own creation. That creation is what makes him the point guard that he is though, not the offense. He specializes in making others better, but sometimes he forgets about making himself that way.
Overall, Rondo is a very good player and will continue to improve as the big three start to phase out. The Celtics being a below .500 team has very little to do with Rondo’s contribution in a poor offense, but more to do with the limits of the offense that they’re running right now.
Even still, I think that Rondo is a top five point guard and has played well enough–aside from this current stretch of bad games–to be considered in this tier of players.
Editor’s Note: Rajon’s usage % is very low, probably a bit too low. But compared to other point guards its not too far below average. Chris Paul’s usage % is only 21.9. That’s because the usage stat uses possessions that end in shot attempts, free throw attempts, and turnovers. That doesn’t count for all of his possessions that end in assists, hence the reason why it is so low.
If Rajon took more shots, then it’d likely be higher. That’s what needs to happen for Boston to be a better team.